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Shtrafbat is the story of a Soviet penal battalion at the height of the Second World War. The film follows the characters from the formation of the battalion in the prison yard to its complete decimation in combat against the Germans.
The film is a good introduction to the complexities of the Soviet war effort, covering the various motivations the characters have for signing up and the callous attitude of the military towards these people as well as giving a good idea of what an absolute hell the Eastern Front was.
The premise and the acting are generally good, but the story seems to move along in fits due to a mediocre directorial effort on the part of Dostal'. Perhaps he was unfamiliar with the mini-series format or just short on time, I don't know, but on the whole the film seems rather artificial and constructed. Segue contrast with "Seventeen Moments of Spring" and "Shield and Sword". Oh Well.
Shtrafbat could have been a whole lot better. Certainly. It is nonetheless worth watching for the history and (if for nothing else) the excellent final scene.
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