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Stalingrad Review

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This German epic reveals the brutal realities of the battle for Stalingrad

by Casimir Harlow Nov 4, 2014

  • Movies review


    Stalingrad Review

    As the might of the German army steamrollered across Europe in every direction, they hit an impasse at the city of Stalingrad.

    Determined Russian soldiers outnumbered them and were fighting on their home turf, not to mention for their leader's namesake city. Whilst the inclement weather put the Germans at a serious disadvantage. Stalingrad – not to be confused with 2013’s Russian 3D spectacle of the same name – is a harrowing portrait of this decisive German defeat, positing some very real, very normal, and even quite sympathetic German soldiers at the heart of the drama as they're ordered to the Russian front only to find themselves little more than cannon fodder in a battle that simply could not be won. Trudging into hell, it’s not long before the unit find themselves fighting the odds against an enemy who are even more determined not to give up. Repeatedly forced to compromise on their own morals, they eventually end up being punished for their disobedience, and trudging the snowy outreaches looking for mines, left to be picked off by the harsh weather, or sent on further suicide missions at the behest of an oblivious Fuhrer.
    Winning awards for its cinematography and editing, this brutal 1993 movie is an unflinching look at the horrors of war; painting its bloody portrait complete with epic battles, impressive incendiaries, tense tank battles, lost limbs, suicide-runs, bloodied white flags, impossible orders, desperate sacrifices, lost innocence and shattered humanity. Although it was reportedly rewritten from its original draft due to being that little bit too close to the truth for the producers’ sensibilities, what remains is still a largely effective anti-war production. It may lack the budget and sheen of modern efforts; it may have little in the way of known star power (a young Thomas Kretschmann gives us a focal point); and it may be brimming with lip-sync issues inherent to the non-German speaking cast involvement, but it is still a strong and powerful effort which, once again reinforces the fact that there are simply no winners in war, and that Stalingrad was one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War.

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