9. Stalingrad

Reading the short blurb on the packaging of this DVD, I have to admit to a certain degree of reluctance to watch this film.  It’s a German production about the German army in World War 2, with an emphasis on the conduct and points of view of the soldiers themselves- most significantly their transformation from proud ubermensch into broken remnants on the battlefields of the Russian front.  I figured this would translate into a kind of self-flagellation, a chance for a nation to whip itself whilst uttering “Oh I’ve been soooo naughty, I must be punished”- with a German accent.

An indicator as to the levity of the film.

Watching the film, I was gratified to find that it was not as apologetic as described.  It takes the same attitude as Saving Private Ryan towards the war- the soldiers’ motivations towards themselves and each other are more important than the overall campaign.  The battle scenes are gritty and uncompromising- as befits the Stalingrad setting, possibly the most bitter warfare ever in human history.  I didn’t feel attached to any of the characters, however- perhaps the obvious dubbing into English helped to divorce me from them to an extra degree.

I was pleased to see actual T34s being used in the battle scenes- not mock ups but the real deal.

Overall, a very well made account, however the subject matter inevitably makes the film heavy going.  If I hadn’t undertaken to review the top 100 war films, then I would probably never have seen Stalingrad, and it makes me glad to have taken up the challenge.



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