Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants.
During the WWII battle of Stalingrad, two snipers, a Russian, and a German, are locked in a battle of wills and marksmanship, while the Russian is boosted to the status of hero by a political official. Written by
The duel between Zaitsev and Konig is partially based on records made by Zaitsev. The rifle scope taken from the killed German sniper is now at the Central Army Museum in Moscow, Russia. German who was shot in the duel was SS sniper Colonel Heinz Thorvald. The Germans claimed someone named Koenig had been shot in the duel and not Thorvald because they didn't want to admit their ace was down. This was claimed by Zaitsev, who also found the papers on the body identifying him as Thorvald. See more »
At the time of banquet honoring Vassili, the Russian anthem was the old "Internationale," which then became the party theme when the new (still familiar to some) Stalin-attributed theme of 1943 became adopted. See more »
[whispering to boy aiming rifle]
I am a stone. I do not move. Very slowly, I put snow in my mouth. Then he won't see my breath. I take my time. I let him come closer. I have only one bullet. I aim at his eye. Very gently, my finger presses on the trigger. I do not tremble. I have no fear. I'm a big boy now. Ready Vassili? Now, Vassili, fire!
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Bursting into my Top Five war movies of all time is this film. A gritty and realistic portrayal of one of the worst battles in the history of war - the 1942-43 armwrestle for the city of Stalingrad.
Much has been made of the actors speaking in their native accents, but this seems a trivial complaint - the film is in English after all! More important is the masterful manner of speech of the actors - Bob Hoskins' gutteral exultations as Ukrainian potato farmer Nikita Krushchev; Joseph Fiennes' pompous and proud intonations as the political officer; Jude Law's common man for the peasant turned soldier; Ed Harris with the clipped and crisp tones of a German officer.
This is my pick for the best film of the year so far (August). It is truly a cinematic masterpiece, with horrific scenes of the violence of war, brilliant dialog and heart-wrenching tragedy. Expect to be moved.
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