|Titel:||Stalingrad (War in the Soviet Union)|
|Cast:||Petr Fedorov, Yanina Studilina, Dmitriy Lysenkov, Aleksey Barabash, Andrey Smolyakov, Maria Smolnikova, Vladimir Kurlovich, Thomas Kretschmann, Heiner Lauterbach and Daniel Moorehead|
|Playing time:||131 minutes|
The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the key moments during the Second World War. Paulus' 6th army was enclosed by Soviet soldiers and thousands of German soldiers did not return to their 'Heimat' after their captivity. Stalingrad is a popular theme in films. Earlier 'Stalingrad (1993)' came out. A German drama film that was well received. The Russian film also titled 'Stalingrad', from 2013, relies heavily on graphics effects, action scenes and a clear message. Acting work in the film is poor to moderate. In September 2013, the film premiered in Volgograd (the former Stalingrad). 'Stalingrad' received the International 3D and Advanced Imaging Society Jury Award.
'It is 1942. On the other side of the Volga, the Soviet Army is planning a counterattack against the Nazis who occupy half of Stalingrad. However, the operation to cross the river is unsuccessful. A few soldiers who have succeeded in reaching the other side take refuge in a house on the banks of the Volga. Here they find a girl who has not managed to escape the Germans'.
The Russian film starts with an opening scene in which a Japanese earthquake from 2011 is being commemorated. One of the rescue workers tries to reassure the survivors with his own story about the Second World War. The victims are young Germans students. The rescue workers are Russians.
The film goes back in time to 1942 and the viewer sees the Battle of Stalingrad. This struggle would make about 2 million victims. Hundreds of thousands of Russians, Soldiers as well as civilians, died in Stalingrad. The film shows both the Soviet and the German side. There is little mention of glorification of their own soldiers. Germans as well as Soviet soldiers commit atrocities. German soldiers avenge themselves, among other things, on Soviets citizens and children. Innocent people are being locked in and burned. The senselessness of war is emphasized in the film. Five Soviet soldiers are playing the leading role in the film and 'Hauptmann' Kahn on the German side. Kahn is falling in love with a captured Russian woman, used by German troops as a prostitute. With the Soviets we see Katya, a young Russian girl of nineteen years. She lives in Stalingrad and her relatives have been killed in a bombing raid of the city by German planes. Soviet soldiers are protecting her.
The film alternates between the German and Russian perspective. During the battle many soldiers on both sides are killed. Kahn's love for the Russian woman causes him to have problems with his boss. His boss regards the woman merely as a whore. He speaks about 'garbage' and 'scum.' In his eyes, the Soviets are 'rats.' Further on, the film shows what effect war has on people. The German protagonist freaks out, he cares for nothing anymore. Revenge on Soviet soldiers is 'normal' to him. Blinded by hatred he kills many Soviet soldiers. During a German attack many Wehrmacht- and Soviet soldiers are being killed. War is pure madness. That shows 'Stalingrad' well. People who kill each other, incited by propaganda en twisted dictators.
'Stalingrad' produces poor acting but knows how to captivate by a combination of visual spectacle and a clear message without excessive exaltation of its own country and soldiers, except perhaps the scene of the attack by Soviet soldiers in which burning soldiers continue to fight. The criticism that this film would be propagandistic is not justified. For example, the film does not depict Soviet soldiers as invincible. Everything considered, 'Stalingrad is a fascinating war film. It does not, however, match the realism of the Stalingrad film from 1993 or American war classics as 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Band of Brothers'.