Three Heroines

Vertov the filmmaker had two passions: women and planes. The best sequence in Lullaby (1937) is of a young and irresistibly self-effacing woman describing her first parachute jump. These two passions came together in Three Heroines (1938), which follows the legendary female pilots Raskova, Osipenko, and Grisodubova in their failed but magnificent attempt to make the first nonstop trans-Siberian flight. Using documentary reenactments, Vertov depicts the flight, the crash, the rescue, and the women's heroic return to Moscow, where crowds shower them with flowers, and leaders with speeches. The film's unspoken irony: a good crash and a successful rescue make a better story than a mission accomplished.

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