A band of Russian soldiers fight to hold a strategic building in their devastated city against a ruthless German army, and in the process become deeply connected to two Russian women who have been living there.
In 1943, in the Russian front, the decorated leader Rolf Steiner is promoted to Sergeant after another successful mission. Meanwhile the upper-class and arrogant Prussian Captain Hauptmann ... See full summary »
Set during World War 2. After Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, Russia attacked Finland in November 1939. Finnish reservists leave their homes and go to war. The film focuses ... See full summary »
When in 1941 Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, their troops quickly besieged Leningrad. Foreign journalists are evacuated but one of them, Kate Davies, is presumed dead and misses the ... See full summary »
Operation Market Garden, September 1944: The Allies attempt to capture several strategically important bridges in the Netherlands in the hope of breaking the German lines. However, mismanagement and poor planning result in its failure.
Well-meant attempt to depict the events concerning the battle of Stalingrad, though the individuals Vilsmaier concentrates on, remain - due to his direction - too far away from the viewer to have him/her really involved and the result is that the drama of the war is never really felt. Thus the film's last and symbolic shot is devoid of a deeper meaning, Thè anti-war film based on the Stalingrad event - as Vilsmaier has clearly given himself as task - is never established. An anti-war film it may be, but "die Brücke" by Bernhard Wicki still has far more impact. It also noteworthy that the film concentrates on the German soldiers only and hardly shows anything on the Russian side.
Moreover as far as the political side is concerned the film never surpasses the level of the 08/15 films by Paul May: it is simple in its division between the politically "good" and "bad" soldier, finding the latter in the higher ranks only, while the lower and lowest in rank are basically decent people; the soldier is just another victim of the regime. Compare this, if you have ever the opportunity, to what 6 German ex-soldiers tell about their experiences at the Russian front in the documentary "Mein Krieg" by Harriet Eder and Thomas Kufus (q.v.). I certainly do not want to suggest that Vilsmaier excuses the war (or worse), but he does not succeed in incorporating the socio-political situation, if he had ever the intention to do so..
There are surely impressive scenes (short truce in the plant; attack of Russian tanks, shooting of Russian civilians e.g.) and the battle scenes ar extremely well choreographed; the cinematography is sometimes stunning. But on the minus side: the cast is never more than average and the music is heavy handed.
In short: despite elementary shortcomings, certainly worth a view.
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