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Anton Filatov’s Top 10 Films for Surviving a War

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A parable comedy that reminds you that the best solution in the most difficult situations is to act as simply as possible.

A comedy-drama that proves that the best way to solve the most difficult life circumstances is to accept them easily.

There is no main character in this film. There are a number of characters torn apart from each other who do one thing together. Warfare has chaotic and incredibly aggressive management rules. It often happens that one separate process or project in a war is jointly done by dozens of people who do not even know about the existence of each other. In peacetime, such an organization of labor would collapse in a minute. But in war, this controlled chaos pays off. And this movie really illustrates that.

Surviving at the War in Ukraine: 10 Films That Help Me Save Myself By Anton Filatov, for The New York Times

Before the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, I worked as a film critic. While 12 years in this profession, I have watched thousands of films and written hundreds of movie reviews. But now, being at the front line, I deeply overestimated all my film experience. Explosions and shots knock everything superfluous out of my head. In such circumstances I think only about the things that really matter: how I played with my child, about the main words that I said to my relatives and friends, about the moments when I was filled with a stream of joy and felt the fullness of life. I selected 10 films that gave me such life experience. The memory of these films gives me the strength to survive in the war. I hope that these films will give energy to you too.

“Forrest Gump” 1994 dir. Robert Zemeckis

The protagonist of the film behaves like a person with a mild form of autism. In many fateful situations, he just goes with the flow. He does not criticize, does not analyze, does not defend his position, but simply accepts what is happening as it really is. All the actions of the protagonist are dictated as by some kind of higher providence. In stressful situations, when you risk a lot and don’t know how to act, you remember the example of Forrest, and you understand that the best way out of the situation is to act sincerely and simply.

“Another Round” 2020 dir. Thomas Vinterberg

Unlike the hero of the aforementioned film, the hero of this outstanding Scandinavian film, finding himself in deadlocked situations, deeply reflects. Does it help him get out of the situation? No. However, he manages to unleash complex life conflicts thanks to alcohol. And with every round of alcohol, his life is filled with new colors and vivid emotions. In fact, drinking blocks his ability to escalate the situation and makes him, like Forrest Gump, accept cruel life circumstances easily. And it helps the main character to pass even the most difficult tests in his life.

“Dunkirk” 2017 dir. Christopher Nolan

One of the best war films that shows complex combat mechanics.

The leitmotif of this film is the hypnotizing sound of a ticking stopwatch. Once in the war, this sound took on a new, even more powerful meaning for me. Here, at the front line, shelling is so intense that after every explosion, hearing disappears for several tens of seconds. At the same time you don’t even hear how your heart beats, and a complete vacuum sets in in your thoughts. But when the shelling stops, the hearing gradually begins to return. In one of these cases, the first thing I heard was the ticking of the clock. Exactly like in this movie. And I thought, “How many of those seconds really are allotted for the rest of my life. And how cool that I’m still alive.”

“Samsara” 2011 dir. Ron Fricke

“Samsara” is more voluminous than an epoch.

In 1977, NASA launched the “Voyager” probes into space, in which they put golden discs with information about our planet and humanity. This data was sent with the hope that it would be intercepted by possibly existing sentient beings from other planets. And this information would help them get to know us. If there is an initiative to launch such a satellite again, then I would like to recommend to put this film “Samsara” in it. This movie would be enough to understand the overall picture of humanity. This movie is about the ambiguity of our morality, about the diversity of our cultures, about the versatility of our spirituality.

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