<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Fedor Bondarchuk. Starring Petr Fedorov, Yanina Studilina, Dmitriy Lysenkov, Aleksey Barabash, Andrey Smolyakov, Maria Smolnikova, Vladimir Kurlovich
If you don’t live in Russia then you’ll be forgiven for not knowing or hearing about Stalingrad. But if you’re Russian and don’t know about it you’ll be shot dead! This happens to be one of Russia’s most successful films since the fall of the Soviet Union and their first film in Imax 3D.
Billing itself as ‘The epic battle that tunred the tide of World War II’ film it tells the story of a band of five Red Army soldiers who are defending a building near the Volga in Russia from advancing German forces who regard the edifice as a key milestone in their conquest.
I have to say that for the first half hour of the film I didn’t quite get what was going on. The drone of the voiceover through the film talking about what’s happening and the background of characters wasn’t helping either. And it looks like a play that has been filmed. Perhaps this set looks better in Imax 3D but it doesn’t translate well on DVD.
I was a bit apprehensive at continuing this journey with the five soldiers and their charge, an 18-year-old Russian girl named Katya who beguiles them and becomes their extra motivation to protect the building and their motherland. At two hours this dubbed-into-English Russian film is a tad long. But slowly you do slip into the story thanks to some engaging performances. There’s the German Captain who falls for a Russian girl and is in charge of defeating the five army men who are a thorn in the side of the German General. His angst at being torn between his Russian lover and his German duty is pretty interesting.
The pyrotechnics and explosions that are used in Stalingrad – all real apparently – are good but I wonder if they look better in 3D.
Stalingrad isn’t a film you’d pick up unless you’re a World War II buff or have a love for Russian cinema.
1. The Making of Stalingrad – The whole thing was a set and there was very little use of green screen on Stalingrad. That’s what director Fedor Bondarchuk tells us in this bonus feature. The stuntmen were actually set on fire creating the eerie effect of soldiers on fire attacking. Several other production crew from the film talk about their experiences working on Stalingrad and their opinions of their somewhat strict-looking but hands-on director.
2. Previews – Four trailers of other films are included in this feature. There are previews for A Fighting Man, Company of Heroes, Ice Soldiers and Bad Country. Curiously, two of these films have the same lead actor: Dominic Purcell.
The audio-visual quality of the DVD is very good.
DVD Courtesy Sony DADC