Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

"It looks great, which means it looks terrible - in a real way"

When they talk of "the bloodiest battle in human history", as they do here, it sounds triumphalist. What about the Battle of Britain? We go on about that a lot and yet do you know how many bombs were dropped on Hanoi during the Vietnam conflict? And so it goes.

Stalingrad has featured in many films. This latest version has nothing new to add, except to point out that Russian soldiers are not the undisciplined brutes of popular belief.

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The question is why? Not why didn't they take advantage of the few women left alive, but why spend a small fortune recreating this shattered story.

It looks great, which means it looks terrible - in a real way. The 3-D improves nothing. The performances are strong, but the emotions fail to engage.

A handful of Russians are holed up in a ruined building, while a fistful of Germans are billeted next door. They shoot at each other every now and again.

And then there are the women. One lives with the Russians who fall in love with her one by one. The other is raped by a German officer and decides to stay with him.

Excluding the sexual undercurrents there is a feeling of Clint Eastwood's Letters From Iwo Jima about the whole thing. The siege of Stalingrad was an epic of fearsome proportions and yet this film concentrates on a small, almost intimate, sub section.

These are men. This is war. Who dies first?

"I came here a soldier," one of them says. "I have become a beast."

Quelle surprise!

Reviewed on: 20 Feb 2014
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A band of Russian soldiers fight to hold a strategic building in their devastated city against a ruthless German army
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Director: Fedor Bondarchuk

Writer: Sergey Snezhkin, Ilya Tilkin

Starring: Mariya Smolnikova, Yanina Studilina, Pyotr Fyodorov, Thomas Kretschmann, Sergey Bondarchuk, Dmitriy Lysenkov, Andrey Smolyakov

Year: 2013

Runtime: 131 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Russia


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