I have been waiting for this to get a Region 2 release, it was originally called The Brest Fortress and available in Region 1. It starts with a young boy and how he plays for the marching band. He tells the story through the lives that lived and died through out the siege. It was June 22 1941 and the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, the Russians' under Comrade Stalin guidance had signed the Molotov Ribbentrov pact of non aggression. They had no orders to defend their borders, in fact the previous day; Russia had delivered vital war materials to the German regime.
Then they attacked with out warning and without a formal declaration of war. The Russians were neutered. The Brest Fortress was not really a fortress but an 18th Century fortress/garrison that had long since become obsolete. The men had their families stationed with them, it was a sprawling Victorian style base of operations that could never withstand a modern barrage, let alone the might of the Wermacht.
Once the attack begins the Russians are in disarray, but soon mainly due to the Commissars, they get organised, but they have very few weapons and little ammunition. The Germans had already infiltrated their lines and cut off both power and water. They have no choice but to fight. Any attempt at a break out is met with German aggression. Once they start defending the 'Motherland' they use everything, from chairs to barrels and spades. This is a very real war film, where hand to hand fighting is shown up close and personal.
It does not shrink from any of the realities of war and does not glorify anything - except for the human spirit. The cinematography is excellent; the acting is superb, especially from the younger members of the cast. Whilst they scavenge the German weapons and try anything to defend themselves they realise they are already out flanked. They are without food, without water and without hope - but they fight on.
This is truly an excellent film, I was constantly reminded of `Come and See', and it is that good. Russia continues to surprise, and Hollywood could learn a thing or two from this production. It has emotion, violence, drama and heart by the bucket load. This is one for all fans of war films, even the music is excellent - I can not recommend this highly enough, and it is one to buy- not rent as you will want to see it again, after you have got over your first viewing that is - ruddy brilliant!