The Russians are depicted fielding T-34/85's during the battle of Kursk in July 1943. In reality, the T-34/85 was not produced until early 1944, and mainly T34/76's were used at Kursk (though none appear in the film). See more »
This film is a colossal Soviet-East German production, entitled in the feature length video I saw as THE LAST DAYS OF HITLER (or "Os Ultimos Dias de Hitler").
The original film or TV series lasts a very Soviet-like 7.5 hours. But the video available in the West is less than two hours long. In fact, no mention is made on the video cover that the original film runs so long. I just found that out on this site. In fact, the film was hard to find on the site. Only listed in its Russian title, I found the film researching the actor who plays Hitler.
The production is reportedly "the most expensive film endeavor in the history of the Soviet Union," with "fortunes spent on reconstructing the Fall of Berlin, featuring the most impressive war scenes on film." Whether this assertion is true or not, the blend of rare archival footage and original shots are unique and unforgettable.
The Soviets did indeed take Berlin, and occupied it all on their own for many weeks. So they do have the best archival footage, and the most authentic props. Their East German partners had the actual bombed out buildings to offer, and both countries offered virtually unlimited resources to recreate the "triumph of communism over fascism" - budgets never seen in the West.
Plus the Soviets and East Germans had the right ethnic types. No British accents, or fake Nazi and pan Slavic accents. Definitely NOT like the many other "Last days of Hitler" indeed!
The film is, of course, not without its faults; namely the excessive almost religious exaltation of the perfectly correct Soviet soldiers and commanders. But more glaringly, there are no "bad" Germans, other than those in Hitler's bunker. The overwhelming (if not all) Germans left in Berlin are depicted as good communist partisans (even Christian clerics), victimized by a few Nazi demons, as the Russians hade been enslaved the Czars.
Anyway, the heavy-handed (what an understatement!) propaganda is to be expected. At least in the short two hour version I saw, all that is not a bad price to pay for the fantastic pluses: military authenticity, and the realistic documentary feeling you'll get from seeing this film.
It really is like seeing the Fall of Berlin with your own eyes (or through Soviet eyes), without the over dramatism of Western big name actors playing German and Russian characters, in very fake locations.
This is one hell of an overlooked war film. I guess World War II has been so over filmed that there isn't even enough room left to bring back this masterpiece. It's a shame. As propagandistic as it may be, this movie is no more so than the post war Western Allied films. And infinitely more realistic! If you find the video, don't miss the opportunity to view it.
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