A group 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.
The "336 Pionier-Bataillon" was a historical unit that also fought in Stalingrad in the "336. Infanterie-Division". The battalion arrived at Stalingrad on the 8th of November 1942. The division was disbanded in 1944. See more »
In a field hospital, a man is having his leg amputated without anaesthetic. Presumably, they ran out of anaesthesia, but even so, they would have put a piece of leather between his teeth to bite down upon and prevent him from biting his tongue off. See more »
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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