Fedor Bondarchuk’s Stalingrad

Last week I bought a DVD of Fedor Bondarchuk’s 2013 film, STALINGRAD.

Fedor is the son of Sergei Bondarchuk, who directed WATERLOO, and is an actor, producer, and director. The cast of STALINGRAD includes:

  • Pyotr Fyodorov (as Gromov)
  • Dmitriy Lysenkov (as Chavanov)
  • Alexey Barabash (as Nikiforov)
  • Andrey Smolyakov (as Polyakov)
  • Sergey Bondarchuk Jr. (as Sergey Astakhov)
  • Oleg Volku (as Krasnov)
  • Philippe Reinhardt (as Gottfried)
  • Georges Devdariani (as Klose)
  • Yanina Studilina (as Masha)
  • Maria Smolnikova (as Katya)
  • Thomas Kretschmann (as Hauptmann Peter Kahn)
  • Heiner Lauterbach (as Oberstleutnant Henze)
  • Polina Raikina (as Natashka)
  • Yuri Nazarov (as Navodchik)

The film can best be described as being an all-action, melodramatic, love story and war film. It lasts just over two hours and contains some of the most violent and graphic battle scenes I have ever seen. The story is told as a flash-back by an elderly Russian rescue worker who is helping to recover survivors trapped after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

The plot of the film deals with the fight for a large building that is blocking a German advance. The building is held by five Russians soldiers and a young Russian woman (Katya) who they found inside when they took possession of the building. The German attackers are led by a German officer (Hauptmann Kahn) who has developed an obsession with a young Russian woman (Masha) who resembles his dead wife. The German officer’s superior (Oberstleutnant Henze) proves to be a callous individual who will stop at nothing to be successful.

The film opens with scenes showing Russian troops being ferried across the River Volga towards the city of Stalingrad.

Newly-arrived Russian troops try to capture the oil tanks that hold the German Army’s fuel reserves, but before they can do so Hauptmann Kahn blows the oil tanks up, dousing the attackers in flames.

The fighting is then concentrated around the centre of the city, and in particular the square containing the famous statue of the six children dancing in a circle.

Before the first major German assault on the Russian-held building is made, Oberstleutnant Henze makes what he regards as a pre-battle ‘blood sacrifice’ when he orders that a woman and child that he has ‘indentified’ as being Jewish are boarded up in a tramcar … which is then set alight by a flamethrower.

This act causes the Russian defenders to mount a pre-emptive attack on the Germans, forcing them to fall back.

This only delays the Germans, and several unsuccessful attacks are made before a number of panzers arrive on their way to attack the Russian bridgehead on the western bank of the Volga. By this time Oberstleutnant Henze has been killed (as has Masha), and Hauptmann Kahn leads a final assault on the Russian position, supported by the panzers.

The attack succeeds, but just as the Germans seize control of the building, the Russians call down an air strike on their position, killing the Germans and wiping themselves out in the process. Only Katya survives because Sergey Astakhov – who is the father of her unborn child – makes sure that she is moved to a safe nearby location before the final battle begins.

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10 Comments on “Fedor Bondarchuk’s Stalingrad”

  1. Don M says:

    I bought the DVD a few months back, a good action film, great battle scenes and all around engaging story.

  2. Don M,

    I thought that the action scenes – which used special effects rather than CGI wherever possible – were first rate.

    All the best,

    Bob

  3. KEV. says:

    Glad you have enjoyed this Movie BOB. I'm actually scared of Modern Movies – cannot bare to watch them- are they too real? Far too fast? Smart dialogue?…I do not know- however, I can easily watch older Movies and enjoy them greatly…less violence, less graphic scenes – slower pace? No CGG at all… I can easily sit down and watch 'Mary Poppins' on DVD and enjoy it thoroughly ….Musicals! Love them! KEV.

  4. Kev,

    Some of the new films coming from Eastern Europe and Russia are excellent, and tend to use lots of proper effects rather than computer generated images. For example, the Polish film about the post World War I Battle of Warsaw featured thousands of real horsemen and replica FT-17 tanks.

    As I write this, the film BATTLE OF THE RIVER PLATE is being shown on TV. It is one of my favourites … and not a single computer special effect in sight!

    Musicals have never been top of my list of films to watch, although there are some notable exceptions (e.g. MARY POPPINS, LES MISERABLES).

    All the best,

    Bob

  5. John Curry,

    Considering that it only cost £3.00 in ASDA (which is cheaper than a wargame magazine!) it was exceptionally good value.

    All the best,

    Bob

  6. Pete. says:

    Looks like there is enough to justify the £3 price tag from your review Bob. I shall pic up a copy to watch I think.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

  7. Pete,

    I hope that you enjoy it. I certainly did, although the 'love' story between the five soldiers and the young women did seem to hark back to a previous era of film making.

    All the best,

    Bob

  8. Pete. says:

    Oddly I prefer the old sort of war film where the scale and significance of the battle was enough to carry the film without relying on adding some spurious human interest, love or otherwise to keep people's interest.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

  9. Pete,

    I agree. Those films usually stand the test of time … unlike some of the more modern ones.

    All the best,

    Bob


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