But this sacrifice is not in vain. Encouraged by Xenia’s heroics, other women gradually join the skies and eventually play a role in wresting the final victory. Although the main character Xenia is fictional, many female pilots fought for the Soviet forces in World War II. That means the production of this film is based on reality. The director gives the example of a famous woman pilot named Lydia Lithbiak, who shot down many German planes before she was martyred herself. Although the air battles of Stalingrad and Leningrad and to a lesser extent land battles are mainly throughout the film, the director emphasizes the characters’ own and mutual emotions – feelings, love, sometimes jealousy, mockery of male colleagues or cooperation – these aspects. According to him, ‘I mainly worked on the emotions and performances of the characters, I didn’t want to make an action blockbuster.’
Perhaps this is the reason why many controversial aspects of the Soviet regime come up in the dialogues of the main characters of the film. For example, Xenia’s parents died on government orders. Xenia even changed her name to escape from this social gloom. Due to ideological differences, information about the state’s attack on the homes of many people also emerged. When asked about this, German said, ‘All revolutions have a dark side. And that is state terrorism. As it did after the French Revolution, it became more widespread under Stalin. So, naturally, I wanted to highlight this conflict of internal sabotage as well as external enemy injuries in the wartime atmosphere.’ It should be mentioned here that the filmmaker’s father also fell under the grip of Soviet restrictions. Due to this, the number of his films was also less. On the other hand, the release of several of his films was delayed due to the unpopularity of the subjects, which saw the light of day only during the Perostrika in the eighties.
Another conflict of the Soviet period, like the wavering of the individual about faith in God, is also revealed in the film. In a private conversation between female pilots, the main character Xenia insists on her disbelief, even though one professes to believe in God. He claimed that the bitter experience of his life taught him that. When the subject was brought up to the director, he said, to be honest, atheism was virtually absent in wartime Russia. In those terrible days of life and death, everyone was clinging to his own religious faith.
When the main character Xenia’s plane crashes to the ground, she mumbles, ‘Mom, I’m coming to you…Dad, I’m coming to you…Masa (Comrade) I’m coming to you.’ And the director mentioned this scene and said, at this time Xenia gradually became a believer. Because meeting loved ones in the afterlife is basically an indication of becoming a believer. And talking about the current Russian society, German said, now most people believe in God. There may be some exceptions.