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If you want to watch it because of the epic war theater - the siege of
Leningrad - don't. As a war movie this one is a complete JOKE - from
the bad special effects to a director with zero grasp of reality: in
one scene 20 Germans are running towards 20 dug in Russians. The
Russians counter attack by getting out and running towards the Germans.
They shoot once and then they charge, the Germans do the same like a
civil war battle and then we have a hand to hand fight of those 40
people?!?!? And that represents the battle at the Leningrad front. You
want see more, that's it, that's all, move along to the acting.
Acting - 2nd rate. You will see the 2 stars, Gabriel Byrne and Mira Sorvino tired and going trough the mechanics of acting. Good performance from the kids and Olga Sutulova.
Ohh, but Wait you say! This is a great drama, an epic in human suffering and endurance, thats why i will watch it! Yeah, but this movie does no justice to the Siege of Leningrad where 1.5 million people lost their lives. It barely scratches the surface of the 872 days of bravery, self sacrifice and complete horror that was the siege.
The real problem with the movie is that after watching it i feel angry at an epic story being told to me by amateurs, for that is how it feels at the end. (except the kids and the militia girl)
To make an interesting historical drama without trashing history is
quite a challenge. This film succeeds admirably. By focusing on the
lives of a few fictitious (?) characters, we are able to experience
slow starvation in a bitterly cold Russian winter, feel how it affects
both body and mind and see how this leads desperate people to do
One and a half million Russians died in the Leningrad siege which lasted nearly 900 days. The film was wise to focus on the first winter only. The historical background is shown accurately. The negatives: a city under constant German bombardment from land and air; reducing daily calorie intake as food supplies dwindle, cannibalism, slicing flesh from a still-living horse; criminal elements encouraged by a black market in food; civilians kept in check by a ruthless Soviet police system and, especially, an immeasurable (because punishable) wish on the part of the populace to surrender to the Germans - 'at least they will feed us.' The positives: the winter lifeline offered by a frozen Lake Ladoga, supplies of American bacon and lard, individuals supporting each other.
This is a very honest film from a Russian director who treads a careful path between paying homage to Russian suffering on the one hand and being truthful about the Communist system on the other. A Soviet director would have had to make a very different film indeed. Fear of the NKVD secret police and its own paranoia about internal and external subversion are central to the story line. The Soviet system was unforgiving of failures and mistakes and this affected how individual Russians thought and behaved.
Director Buravsky says his film is an 'independent' one. It is certainly less commercial than 'Admiral' (2008) which relies on a romantic story line and set-piece battles to capture audience attention. The action scenes in 'Leningrad' are kept to a minimum but are sufficient to remind us that the city suffered unpredictable and spasmodic bombardment. It is much the better film of the two.
'Leningrad' is held together by the supportive relationships which develop between the main characters. It is, after all, a film more about civilian suffering than about a military campaign. Characterisation is fairly good. Our young teacher-turned policewoman heroine is quite willing to shoot any shirkers: her Komsomol years have channelled youthful idealism into ruthless Communist action. And yet she helps a stranded British journalist with whom she can practise her English. She develops an affinity with this exotic educated woman. Olga Sutulova and Mira Sorvino give convincing performances as the female leads who become comrades rather than gushing friends. Given the 'we will all probably die' circumstances, the film avoids over-emotionalism and sentimentality. However, the Kate Davis character would not have forgotten her native Russian at the age of 10.
Involving foreigners in the plot allows the film to escape siege claustrophobia and is more likely to appeal to a wider audience than an all-Russian affair. Rainy Eastbourne offers a pleasant break from frozen Leningrad. On the other hand, it could also be a commercial ploy to allow greater penetration of world markets (as the capitalists would say)!
Given the grim situation, offsetting the film's rising dramatic tension with comic relief is not really an option. Instead the director gives us short action scenes and scenes from the German and Russian HQs. These explain the military background. They also contrast the plight of the Leningraders with the elites running each side of the war from comfort and safety.
The film appears to show the German leadership in a more favourable light than the Soviet one. Buravsky gives the German commander Ritter von Leeb a pilot-nephew who pricks his uncle's conscience about the fate of the Leningraders. Did this catholic Field Marshall really have a nephew with a death wish named Walter Hoesdorff who was shot down whilst attacking a Russian AA battery over Leningrad? This is where historical films have to be careful. If no such nephew existed, he should not have been invented. On the other hand, showing empathy for enemy sensibilities should be applauded. No matter how much armies and combat conspire to homogenise men, individual soldiers retain their individuality.
Zhdanov, the city's ruthless defender, is shown unsympathetically; he has a much smaller role than the Germans. A photo of the dreaded Beria hangs on a wall in the Moscow HQ of the NKVD where fighting subversion assumes a higher priority than fighting Germans. Buravsky's 'extras' interview reveals his belief that Stalin hated Leningraders for being too independently-minded. He thinks that Stalin could have done more to relieve the city earlier. It suited the Great Leader to see Leningraders die?!!! 27 million dead was certainly a high price to pay for beating the Germans in 'The Great Patriotic War'. Russians no doubt debate how many of these deaths should be blamed on Stalin. This film will not find favour with those Russians wishing to revive the Stalin Cult as a means to restoring Russia's sense of her former greatness. Stalin does not appear in the flesh in this film but Hitler does.
In this respect 'Leningrad' offers a useful snapshot of Russia's present-day relationship with her Soviet past. Pity about the subtitles. That black space underneath the film is the obvious place for them. Why can't this be standardised across the industry?
After reading the IMDb users comments I was thinking for a long time should I watch this film or not. I started watching as a WWII buff knowing that at least Russian drama school can not be bad and I am pretty much aware of the perfect costumes as bringing to life WWII cities and battles in the Russian movies. I was not wrong. As a matter a fact, there is much more behind this movie than just a common WWII movie. Stunning emotional destiny of few individuals depicts the whole Leningrad WWII passion. I do not like the usual Hollywood softeners used in the film as we are talking about the city whose siege took 1.5 million lives in three years. If you were ever watching the documentaries on the Leningrad Siege you would probably know what I mean. Here, some of the mass scenes look like theater stage. I believe that this should be done more authentic as we are talking about terrible suffering that Russian people lived for the world liberation of Nazis. I know this is not historical movie, but more careful development of the individual suffering and closer approach to survival of main heroes would give better result. Still, dynamic plot is pretty convincing, it involves you on emotional bases not on action base, so I can understand negative reactions of some Hollywood buffs here. All in all, I did like this movie, would recommended it.
This war movie was quite nice. It portrayed the lives of the people in
Leningrad during the siege during World War 2. So in this aspect it was
refreshing to see a new approach to parts of WW2.
The story was compelling and moving. You got to feel for and with the characters in the movie, like you were part of their struggles. The cast had a huge part in this, because all characters were well portrayed and really came to life on the screen.
The sets and sceneries were amazing as well, very detailed in every aspect.
The movie have a lot of moving scenes and images, and it makes you feel part of the story. It really came together in a good way, and the movie was not boring for a second, despite it not being non-stop action from start till end - as with most war movies. What really works in this movie is that the Russians do speak Russian and the Germans do speak German. It is crap when they speak English, but with an added Russian or German accent - which they do in most movies! That just doesn't work. But keeping it in their respective languages adds so much more realism to the movie, and that is one of the really good things in this movie.
This movie is almost as good as the 1993 German movie "Stalingrad". If you liked that one, then you should not let "Leningrad" pass you by. This is top entertainment, especially if you like WW2.
Russian filmmaker Aleksandr Buravsky seems to have been chasing Hollywood aesthetics his entire career. His 1995 film SACRED CARGO was filled with B-list American stars and seemed to hide its Russian roots, but with LENINGRAD (aka Attack on Leningard) he's finally got the budget and the balance right. Boasting a huge budget, it looks as good as any American World War 2 drama and stars Mira Sorvino, Gabriel Byrne and Armin Mueller-Stahl. But significantly this is not a film designed strictly to appeal to the international market, LENINGRAD is first and foremost a Russian film. Although at first it seems the Hollywood performers are just window dressing, that does seem to be the case with Byrne and Mueller-Stahl, Sorvino actually plays a key role and shares leading lady duties with native actress Olga Sutulova. Sorvino is a bit miscast as an English journalist (bad accent) stranded in the starving city of Leningard, but delivers a good performance and it's possibly the most credible of the myriad Hollywood Effect movies produced in Russia to date. An interesting story, strong production values and engaging performances make this very satisfying viewing. But those seeking typically macho fare should look elsewhere.
A highly emotional, deeply moving and beautifully told story of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century. It absolutely cannot leave you indifferent. While it depicts horrific events during the siege of Leningrad it manages to keep a shred of hope and faith (in human nature first and foremost) by creating these most humane and touching characters. The acting is incredible, very subtle and no small details are left untouched. The battle scene is so graphic that you find yourself overwhelmed and completely immersed in the utter nightmare and horror of it. All in all it is powerful work that deserves to be seen. Over and over.
Mira Sorvino plays a Russian born journalist from Britain who gets
trapped in the besieged city of Leningrad during WWII. I recently
completed a book called Armageddon by Max Hastings about the end of the
war in Europe. Even though I had read quite a lot about WWII in Europe
I was still shocked by the savagery inflicted on the people in the path
of the German attack (Barbarossa) and then the return of the Russians
as they pushed them back to Germany. The war on the Western front
(France and Belgium) was fought almost as a gentleman's war when
compared to the fighting on the Eastern front. (A generalization, I
know) The siege of Leningrad was typical of the war on the Eastern
front. If you want to read about savagery read Chapter 10 on East
Prussia in Armageddon - or read Harrison Salisbury's the 900 Days,
which deals exclusively with Leningrad.
God help us if any of us ever had to endure what the people in Eastern Europe suffered during WWII. Almost 3 million Russians were directly affected by the siege of Leningrad - by dying or being evacuated from their home. The movie does an excellent job of depicting for us what it must have been like. We observe: the politics and propaganda of war when the Russians first let the journalists into Leningrad - not showing them the bread lines, etc.; a young man's delight (Yura) at receiving a bar of chocolate; the trading of a 8 carat diamond ring for a small tin of black marker meat; a coo - coo clock working in the midst of a devastated city; selling top soil for people to eat because they believed that some sugar had been melted into it; children speaking longingly about leaving the oven door open so they could go to sleep for good; people butchering a horse while still alive for its meat; and human cannibalism.
This film shows how desperate people become when they are starving.
My Mother lived thru the Blitz in Plymouth, England during WWII. She always used to laugh when she heard Americans complain about rationing in the U.S. during the war. Watch Attack on Leningrad and maybe we will realize how fortunate we are to live in a land which has never suffered the privations of total war as Europe did during WWII.
This is a movie which I imagine few people will see - (there were only 20 reviews in IMDb.) But it is one which people need to see - if only so they can appreciate what others went thru and to be thankful for all we have in this country. I hope you watch it, even though it is tough to watch. Best regards DonB
'Some fight. Others fall. All are heroes.' ATTACK ON LENINGRAD as
written and directed by Aleksandr Buravsky does indeed address one of
the longest and costliest sieges in the history of war. History books
relate it as follows: 'This was undoubtedly the most tragic period in
the history of the city, a period full of suffering and heroism. For
everyone who lives in St. Petersburg the Blokada (the Siege) of
Leningrad is an important part of the city's heritage and a painful
memory for the population's older generations. Less than two and a half
months after the Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany, German
troops were already approaching Leningrad. The Red Army was outflanked
and on September 8 1941 the Germans had fully encircled Leningrad and
the siege began. The siege lasted for a total of 900 days, from
September 8 1941 until January 27 1944. The city's almost 3 million
civilians (including about 400,000 children) refused to surrender and
endured rapidly increasing hardships in the encircled city. Food and
fuel stocks were limited to a mere 1-2 month supply, public transport
was not operational and by the winter of 1941-42 there was no heating,
no water supply, almost no electricity and very little food. In January
1942 in the depths of an unusually cold winter, the city's food rations
reached an all time low of only 125 grams (about 1/4 of a pound) of
bread per person per day. In just two months, January and February of
1942, 200,000 people died in Leningrad of cold and starvation. Despite
these tragic losses and the inhuman conditions the city's war
industries still continued to work and the city did not surrender.'
Buravsky made a tough decision in this film - whether to sow all the
tragedy of a grand scale or reduce it to an examination of the effects
of this heinous event as it affected the lives of a few characters. He
elected to choose the latter approach which is one reason this film
stands tall among the many films about the Siege of Leningrad. Yes,
there are reenactments of the battles at the beginning of the film (and
the atrocities throughout the film) but Buravsky focuses on three
cultures in the form of individuals - the Russians, the Germans, and
the British - and is careful to present the extremes of all three
groups in telling his story.
The time is 1941 and Kate Davis (Mira Sorvino) is a British journalist who pleads with fellow journalist Philip Parker (Gabriel Byrne) to be assigned to the war front. She succeeds and is assigned to Leningrad where very quickly she is separated from her confrères and is left, wounded, inside the city of Leningrad as the Germans attempt to destroy the city and conquer Russia. Kate speaks little to no Russian, is discovered by Nina Tsvetkova (Olga Sutulova), a member of the Russian resistance, and takes Kate to safety where she becomes friends with children Sima and Yura Krasko (the brother is severely handicapped), manages to write articles about the war around her when she receives a typewriter as a gift, and in general aids the Russians in surviving the lack of food an supplies and support. The film includes vignettes of the Nazi's involvement (meetings with Hitler as portrayed by Eckehard Hoffmann and Armin Mueller-Stahl as von Leeb, et al) and the Russian military and political groups to keep the action plausible. But by far the main point of the film is to honor the citizens of Leningrad as they struggled to survive - with some caring help from the outside.
The film is in Russian, German, and English with subtitles; the choice is solid for keeping the atmosphere but the mix of the three languages seems to stall the propulsion of the action in many spots. The screenplay is more concerned with depicting the sense of the event than it is in providing a dialogue of sophistication. But the actors make the best of the script: Mira Sorvino, Gabriel Byrne, and Olga Sutulova are strong enough to carry the film. This may not be the best of the films about this subject, but it is certainly one of the most successful depictions of the degree of human suffering war inflicts - and for that reason it is worthy of a larger audience.
One of the stories of WWII that has always deserved a lot more
attention than it has usually gotten is the Siege of Leningrad. The
Nazis blockaded the city, cutting it off from the outside world for
over two years. Over a million Leningraders perished, mainly due to
starvation. Aleksandr Buravsky's "Attack on Leningrad" is set amid this
atrocity. It focuses on an English journalist (Mira Sorvino) caught in
the city when the Nazis blockade it, although the main focus is her
relationships with people in an apartment building as they all struggle
A previous review criticized the movie for concentrating more on the journalist than on the horror that the city experienced. Maybe that's true, but I still thought that it was a good movie. Obviously it can't accurately depict the tragedy that Leningrad suffered, but it does still look at this important part of history. At least that's my interpretation.
With a larger budget 'Leningrad' would have been great.
All ingredients are there. Above all, one of the most horrible scenes in history of mankind: the Nazi-siege + deliberate starvation of Leningrad, nowadays St. Petersburg. Russia's second city, renowned for its magnificent architecture. This siege from 1941-'44 caused a few million casualties, and an unending amount of human suffering.
'Leningrad' deserves praise for its research: the wartime Soviet-society from Stalin's days is well reflected. The film also is adequately in touch with the harshness of the North Russian winter. And the almost unparallelled tragedy of this siege comes out beyond doubt.
After this we arrive at 'Leningrad's weak points: its acting is barely adequate, and its shooting no more than mediocre. A severe tragedy like this surely deserves a lot more dignity and respect than shown here.
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