“Cyborgs: Heroes Never Die” is a film about the battle for the Donetsk airport, the fight against impossible odds by Ukrainian soldiers against the Russian army invading Ukraine in Donbas. It is a story a Good War, the likes of which our planet has not seen since the Second World War. The Ukrainians who defend us all from unprovoked Russian aggression are a precious few, good people. They fight to save Ukraine, to save Europe, and to save the West from the implacable evil of Putin’s Russia.
On June 12 there was a special screening of the film “Cyborgs” in Ottawa, presented by the Ukrainian Canadian Film Festival and sponsored by the Embassy of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and the Canada Ukraine Parliamentary Group. The screening was attended by soldiers and the commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment. They served in Operation UNIFIER in Yavoriv, Ukraine, a NATO-led training mission with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. A delegation of Canadian and Ukrainian members of parliament included Iryna Herashchenko, the First Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada. She has been a leader in securing the release of hostages and prisoners of war from the Russian occupation regime which is in de facto control of part of Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine.
The audience was treated to insightful remarks by the distinguished guests before and after the screening. It was noted that the film “Cyborgs” condenses into 110 minutes the varied experiences of Ukrainians over the period from the empty and formal independence of 1991 to the practical and fought-for independence in 2014 with Maidan and the defence of Ukraine from Russian invaders. It was also noted that the front line of the defence of the West against Russian aggression stretches from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea, with Donbas being the hotspot. Canada is on this front line, leading the forward-deployed NATO battlegroup in Latvia, participating in NATO military training with Ukraine, contributing to NATO air policing in Romania, and sending navy ships to the Black Sea in Operation Reassurance. The Ukrainian army in the trenches of Donbas is the forward defence of NATO’s forward defence of the North Atlantic community.
Given the importance of the screening of the film “Cyborgs” in Ottawa, it is deeply disappointing that no reporter was at the from the Canadian press. The Canadian press, like most of the Western press, has failed to properly report Russia’s global war and in particular Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Most people in the world still have no idea that a battle as intense and as violent as the Battle of Donetsk Airport was fought between two European armies in 2014-2015. The Western press has failed to inform.
The film “Cyborgs” is a fictionalized telling of the story of the defence of Donetsk airport. It is a nuanced and truthful presentation of why a few Ukrainian soldiers fought with so much skill and courage for so long against a relentless enemy. They were like the “happy few” of Henry V’s Englishmen at Agincourt. They were like the 300 of King Leonidas’s Spartans at Thermopylae. Ukrainians compared their soldiers holding out at Donetsk airport to Cyborgs, man-machines, because they were beyond human in their tenacity and bravery.
“Cyborgs: Heroes Never Die” tells the story of heroism honestly. Characters in the film ask and answer the question all soldiers in war have, which is why we fight. The career soldier, the Maidan volunteer, the nationalist, the intellectual, the soon-to-be-granddad all give different answers. But in the end, the motivation is the same as it is in all just wars: they fight for Ukraine because it is being invaded by Russia; they fight for their fellow soldiers because they are brothers-in-arms.
The Ukrainian film “Cyborgs” is about ordinary men doing extraordinary things, and why they do it. The film was made in 2017 while Russia’s war against Ukraine is still raging. We don’t know how Russia’s war against Western civilization will end because we’re still in it. This is a war film made about a war in the middle of that war. We are hopeful that good will triumph over evil, and that Ukraine will defeat Putin’s Russia – but we can’t be sure.
“Cyborgs” is therefore very much like the British film “The Way Ahead,” which was made in 1944. “The Way Ahead” is a fictionalized account ordinary British men, and how they went from being civilians from all walks of life to being trained soldiers. At the end of the film, they make a last-stand defence of a small town in North Africa. At the time the film was made, we were hopeful that good would triumph over evil, and that Britain would defeat Hitler’s Germany – but we couldn’t be sure.
“Cyborgs” was a box-office smash in Ukraine, and has become an inspiration. Starting from the showing in Ottawa on June 12, “Cyborgs” will be presented all across Canada in the coming weeks. The screenings will be tied to the #FreeSentsov and free all Ukrainian political prisoners movement, as well as the “Show the Red Card to Putin” campaign to boycott the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Everyone should see “Cyborgs.” Russia is waging a global war against the Western liberal democratic order that has existed for over 70 years. The epicentre of Putin’s War is Ukraine. The Ukrainian soldiers who fought at Donetsk airport and who fight now all along the battlefront in Donbas are fighting for us because they are us. We want to live in peace, in our own homes, in our way. When a foreign invader comes to kill us and steal from us and take away our way of life then we have a simple choice: surrender or fight. Russia’s global war against the West is a real, hot, violent, bloody, destructive war in Ukraine. The Cyborgs fought a last-stand battle against the forces of evil from Russia. The film “Cyborgs” shows us how and why, and is an inspiration to us all.