The 2017 graduating class of Gobelins—the French school of visual arts—has released their films on YouTube and Vimeo just a few days ago. One that really caught my eye was Night Witches, which commemorates the Soviet 588th Night Bomber Regiment. The regiment’s modus operandi was to let the engines of their biplanes idle on the approach to dropping their bombs on their targets. The unfortunate German recipients of these nighttime deliveries compared the quiet, gliding sound of the biplanes in the wind to that of broomsticks. This, coupled with the fact that the 588th was mainly composed of woman, earned the regiment the nickname “Night Witches.”
Despite the subject matter, there’s something oddly cozy and comforting about the animation style and sound of Night Witches. If you want an armchair professor’s take on it, I’d say it parallels the experience of World War II soldiers during the night. There’s quiet and calm, and then a sudden burst of violence. Then it’s quiet and calm again, except the only witnesses are the survivors, whether they’re German or Soviet.
Night Witches was directed by Arina Korczynski. If you’re interested in seeing the other Gobelins videos or animated films in general, you can check out the Everything Animated channel on Vimeo.