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White Tiger

Titel: White Tiger (Tank war)
Director: Karen Shakhnazarov
Cast: Aleksey Vertkov, Vitaliy Kishchenko, Valeriy Grishko
Released: 2012
Playing time: 104 minutes

The Russian film 'White Tiger' (2012) is about a Soviet tank crew member (Naydenov) who survives an attack by a German tank. Naydenov has been left with very serious burns owing to this tank attack. Several wrecks of the Soviet T-34 tank are shown in the film. It becomes clear that the Soviets hardly care for human lives when the Soviet Army command decides to send the miraculously restored Soviet tank crew back into the front again. Soon, it appears that the main character has special abilities. He is able to 'communicate' with tanks, or so he claims. Most Soviets think he is twisted, but soon they find out that the soldier is right when he says that a mysterious German tank is hunting them.

That German tank is soon called 'White Tiger' by the main character. It is a kind of supernatural power in the form of a tank. Occasionally the German tank emerges and Soviet attacks are repulsed. The various T-34 tanks (T-34-76 and T-34-85) cannot do anything against the frontal armour of the Tiger. Naydenov tries to convince his Soviet superiors that this is a very powerful, almost indestructible tank. During an interrogation with an SS man by Soviet soldiers it appears that German soldiers are not aware of the existence of the tank. The SS soldier believes in the victory of Hitler-Germany and considers the tank as a sign of German superiority. The main character hunts in a T-34-85 tank on the German tank and comes face to face with the tank in an abandoned village.

The war images in the film are quite realistic. Burning tank wrecks are shown and fire and shooting effects are realistically imitated. Wounds such as burns have also been made realistic also. Tanks affected by shrapnel explode. It seems that most of the tanks in the film are not replicas. The T-34 tanks used in the film are real. The German 'White Tiger', however, is a replica. Striking is, that the tank is not so much alike the German heavy PzKpfw VI Tiger (Panzerkampfwagen VI Ausf. H1/E), but the Porsche prototype of the Tiger I, the Panzerkampfwagen VI (P) (VK 45.01). The tank has a rather elongated body. That would explain the 'invulnerability' because this prototype had two hundred millimeters of steel at the front of the body.

Despite this possibility, it seems that in the film, the tank possesses a supernatural power and might not be controlled by humans. The tank appears suddenly and vanishes again just as quickly. The film gives a deeper meaning when it is said that the 'White Tiger' is always lying in wait and can strike at any moment. Perhaps it is a reference to the ever-present fascism and/or Nazism that appears in the form of a tank. The fascism that is always present, dormant, cannot really die and reappears at certain 'favourable' moments in history. At the end of the film we see Adolf Hitler talking to a shady character. The symbolism speaks volumes when we see fire in the background. According to some film descriptions, the figure with whom Hitler speaks is the devil. In doing so Hitler tries to justify his actions:

All in all, 'White Tiger' is a fascinating war film. The combination of realism with supernatural elements creates a balance between non-fiction and fiction. The symbolism of fascism, war and good and evil is clearly evident. The sometimes hidden references to the supernatural are well made up. A successful war film!

Rating: (Very Good)


Translated by:
Cor Korpel
Article by:
Ruben Krutzen
Published on: