In the spring of 1942 German troops advance deep into the Soviet Union, en route to Stalingrad. Hitler, seriously misjudging the 1 tenacity of the Red Army, is convinced that the city can be conquered before winter. Inadequately clothed and without sufficient food, the Nazi troops literally freeze and starve to death, largely abandoned by their leaders. For the soldiers Fritz, Hans, Rollo and GeGe the struggle for life has just begun. Gunfire and bombs are only one part of this hell; most of the soldiers will lose the battle against hunger and cold. The film presents this turning point in World War II as a vast tableau of horror in which the average German soldier was as much a victim of Nazi evil as were the Soviet people.
I had read Antony Beevor's (very readable) history book 'Stalingrad', I had seen 'Enemy At the Gates' and I had seen the episode on 'The World At War' that dealt with the battle of Stalingrad. But all of these were Western European accounts and having learned something of what is one of the bloodiest battles in history with up to 2 million deaths, I wanted a different perspective - and ordered up a copy of this film, a 1993 German film directed by Joseph Vilsmaier.
I have to say something about the DVD first. The Region 2 copy that I received from Cinema Paradiso is *dreadful*. It has a ridiculously bad dubbed English soundtrack with embarrassing, cringeworthy bogus German accents that makes the film unwatchable, and it doesn't have any original German language or subtitles. I returned it almost unwatched. Still wanting to see the film, I purchased a Region 1 copy on eBay - this time, in proper widescreen, 5.1 sound, the option of German with subtitles, and a range of 'extras'. Much better :)
This is one of the best anti-war films I have seen and gives an account of the battle from a German perspective. It tells the tale of a platoon initially relaxing in Italy after a successful North Africa campaign, before they are shipped off to the Eastern front. It then follows them through assorted battle scenes - suffice to say there are few survivors - attempts to obtain almost non-existent medical assistance, attempts to escape the front on the last plane out, until the eventual death of the final few in the snow.
From an upbeat beginning the film shows the decline in morale as defeat looms ever closer and it is clear to them that the Russians - and the Russian winter - have won. Yes, it's a downbeat film, but quite engrossing.
As an aside, the director cast his wife Dana Vávrová as the Russian woman Irina.
A great film - 5/5 stars. But do watch the Region 1 version...
Reasonable film with a decent script - storyline, although all looking a bit dated in comparison to today's stuff! This would be much more enjoyable if it were subtitled instead of the very poor dubbing which makes it a bit cheesy, the film shows the harsh reality of the cold, brutal conditions these poor souls (on both sides) had to fight in.
Great German War Film spoilt by dubbing
- Stalingrad review by PV
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You rated this film: 5
This is a great war film about a turning point in the war - the Germans' defeat at Stalingrad which, crucially, stopped the Nazis moving south to the middle east and seizing the oil that was partly powering the British war effort. The film does not flinch in its portrayal of brutal Nazis and brutal Russians too. It shows war as a messay amoral business............................. Sadly, this is ruined by the fact that the film is dubbed - not very well somtimes - and subtitles are not even given for passages of writing in German! Fortunately, I can understand a bit of German! Subtitles throughout would have been far far better - I hope to watch this film again with subtitles at some stage.