WRITTEN BY Preston Poulter
Biopic, War Drama, War Romance
At the darkest hour of World War II, two women drafted into the Soviet Air Force must fight off the Nazi invaders at Stalingrad — the deadliest battle in history.
“White Lily”, was the callsign of the first woman in world history, Lilya Litvyak, to score a confirmed kill in the air. Lilya, Jewish of Polish descent, flew for the Soviets and is one of two central characters in our story. Together with Ukrainian Katya Budanova, her “wingman,” they scored well over ten kills each in numerous air battles at Stalingrad and Kursk. This script encompasses the struggle of two women working together to overcome the challenges of a male-dominated world.
Early in the story, Lilya recites the Soviet “Oath of Allegiance” during which she flashes back to her childhood when the Soviets killed her father in The Great Purge. Her selfless devotion to the state that brutally murdered her father in front of her compels us to feel the depth of her emotional scars.
Alexei, Lilya’s romantic interest, begins our story as a traditional chauvinist with the prejudices typical of Russian men. Lilya’s superior flying ability wins him over. The recent integration of mixed genders serving together fuels their romance more than any real compatibility, and the mood of impending doom that hangs over the squadron prevents either from questioning what they have between them.
Meanwhile, Katya’s unvoiced infatuation for Lilya grows everyday they fight together until it becomes an obsession. Her burgeoning lesbianism puts her at odds with her Communist leaders who preach equality for all, while labeling homosexuality a crime. She wishes she could heal Lilya’s deep spiritual wound but instead allows her recklessness to draw them ever further into danger. The tension of Katya’s unrequited affections combined with being a daily witness to watching Lilya with Alexei continually builds the love triangle towards a breaking point. How can they work together with their personal feelings in such turmoil?