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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 »
LIBERATION was released pretty much everywhere except North America back in the 70's as at least two separate films. It's actually not so much a film but more or less either a miniseries or five distinct films, each covering a different battle. While it WAS dubbed into English like most other Russian films, I don't think that's out on DVD or VHS in any country, so I had to watch this in Russian without even subtitles. I therefore didn't understand what was going on during the dialog, but luckily there's plenty of battle scenes and stuff that's easy to follow even if you don't speak the language.
The first movie covers the build-up of forces around the Kursk salient of July 1943 up to the massive battle of Prokhorovka (this is the only movie I know of to depict this huge battle). Lots of mock-up Tigers (and some not so-well made up Panthers) participate, eons above what we did around the same time in BATTLE OF THE BULGE with M48's pathetically filling in for Tiger tanks. Of course, since this movie had the backing of the Soviet government, there's plenty of vintage T-34's, T-34/85's, SU-122's, and IS-2's (briefly) on display. That, plus lots of extras and aircraft equal a pretty stunning battle just a notch below what Sergei Bondarchuk would put together. Impressive, but lacking any real dramatic punch.
The second movie covers the crossing of either the Don or Dnieper river, and the liberation of either Kharkov or Kiev (would have helped to speak Russian). The Third covers Operation Bagration and the destruction of Army Group Center. The Fourth is the Russian advance into Germany, and the Fifth follows the Battle of Berlin up through the raising of the Russian flag on the Reichstag.
The film doesn't just recreate the battles, but everything else surrounding them. We get scenes with Joseph Stalin meeting with Zhukov and his generals, attending the Yalta and Tehran conferences, etc. We also get the Mussolini rescue mission by the SS commandos, the Hitler assassination attempt, and then the last days of Hitler in the Fuhrerbunker. The actors all look and sound a lot like their historical counterparts, even Zhukov who looks like a Russian version of James Caan. The guy who plays Hitler is astounding and even gets the accent and mannerisms right, but of course the Russians play him up to be extremely villainous, and present him as outright murdering his less-than-enthusiastic spouse.
This soviet whitewashing of history is the film's biggest weakness (apart from a lot of poor editing during the battles). The Russian soldiers are shown to be good-natured and generous even to the German civilians (which we know was not the case). There's even a few scenes of German turncoats serving under the communists and helping them storm a zoo (so the General can have a pet monkey) in a fairly surreal scene in Part 4. This film has a heavy East-German connection so it's easy to see where that came from came from.
There's one small attempt at a love story, but luckily it doesn't get in the way of things and only is barely hinted at as the movie goes on. This is a lot like "Winds of War", with more straight history and less personal drama. I am a little irked at the idiotic portrayal of the German soldiers though, who don't seem to be able to shoot straight or that their bullets have any affect on the always charging brave Russian soldiers. But then again, this is typical of Russian war movies. A good prequel to this is the film THE HOT SNOW which covers much of the events leading up to this film, and makes use of a lot of the same prop tanks.
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