'The Pilot' Uses a Real Soviet Plane to Bring an Untold WWII Story to the Screen

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The Pilot Pyotr Fyodorov
Pyotr Fyodorov stars in the Russian WWII thriller "The Pilot." (Well Go USA)

"The Pilot" is a Russian action thriller that's based on the true story of Aleksey Maresyev, a World War II pilot whose plane was shot down over the German-occupied Novgorod Region. The movie follows Maresyev as he tried to battle cold, wild animals and Nazis as he attempts to return home.

The movie will be released on Digital, Blu-ray and DVD on March 1, 2022, and we've got a first look at the trailer.

While the movie's characters speak Russian (and probably German), the release will give viewers a choice between subtitles or an English-language dubbed version.

Nikolai Komlev is the name of the character based on Maresyev, and he's played by Russian actor Pyotr Fyodorov. If you're not a fan of Russian movies or television you've probably never heard of him, but Fyodorov is a well-known lead actor in his home country.

The movie used a still-working Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 for flight scenes. Of the 40,000 such planes built during the war, only two still exist. The plane we'll see in the movie was forced to land on an icy lake in the Murmansk region in November 1943. It sank and remained submerged until 2012, when it was recovered and refurbished.

Airplane scholars will note that, although the movie takes place in 1941, the two-seat version of the plane seen in the film didn't go into production until 1943. Considering that there are only two left in the world, the producers kindly ask that we give them a pass on this.

Like the Oscar-winning movie "The Revenant," "The Pilot" was filmed in extreme weather conditions that replicate what the actual pilots endured during the war. There's a lot of snow, and the wild animals you see onscreen are real wolves and not special effects.

We don't see many WWII movies about our Russian allies, but this one has a brave pilot fighting off wolves and Nazis to get home to his family. That sounds like a winner.

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