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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I Will Defend To The Death"
Fortress of War tells the story of the heroic defence of the Brest Fortress which was assaulted on the opening day of hostilities between Nazi Germany and Russia(Operation Barbarossa).The film opens as most war films do showing the relative peace before the carnage ensues.Russian soldiers and their families alike were enjoying a hot summers day watching the regimental...
Published on 5 Sep 2011 by Mr. S. H. J. Palmer

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cartoon blood, cartoon planes, cartoon film
Everything's just so wrong about this film. Firstly, we have all the cliches a good propaganda war movie should have: snarling Germans; heroic Russians; bullets always hitting enemy targets, even when fired wildly from an upstairs window. Not to mention the melodramatic music and the endless slow-motion segments during the dull battle sequences. After an hour, I'd lost...
Published 16 months ago by The Demon Pazuzu


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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I Will Defend To The Death", 5 Sep 2011
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This review is from: Fortress of War [DVD] (DVD)
Fortress of War tells the story of the heroic defence of the Brest Fortress which was assaulted on the opening day of hostilities between Nazi Germany and Russia(Operation Barbarossa).The film opens as most war films do showing the relative peace before the carnage ensues.Russian soldiers and their families alike were enjoying a hot summers day watching the regimental band play,dancing and scenes of young love.The most excitement they seemed to get is from a delivery of a new film for the Saturday night screening.
All this changes on the morning of June 22nd when the Germans unleash their first artillery barrage on the fortress,which is best described really as a citadel(think of Hue City in Vietnam and that should give you an idea of the scale of the fortifications at Brest).What ensues during this initial barrage is utter confusion and disarray amongst the Russian soldiers,power supplies are cut,ammunition dumps explode,civilians are indiscriminately killed along with soldiers all of whom are running in different directions.
Eventually a handful of Russian officers regained some sort of order and formed pockets of resistance against the ever attacking mouse grey masses in front of them.The three main pockets were all lead by real characters that did exist during this siege.There is very little artistic license by the film makers as most of the names and events did happen as the film depicts(the Brest Fortress museum was involved in the making of this film throughout).
After the initial barrage the Germans advance on the fortress with well planned co-ordinated infantry attacks supported with tanks.From here on there is no let up in the action all of which is superbly filmed.Totally surrounded and cut off from their retreating army the Russian garrison defends the fortifications for many days to come.With ammunition,water and basic medical supplies dwindling the film is a testament to the bravery and outright tenacity of the defenders.
The story is primarily told through the eyes of a young Russian band member(Sashka) who also narrates the film as an older version of this boy.We follow this boy as he witnesses the barbarity of war,which reminded me a little of the earlier Belorussian film Come and See.
Expertly filmed and authentic to the smallest detail it is an account which is as harsh as the real events.The cg is superb and almost unnoticeable.The actors all give a sterling performance and are well directed with a score that fits like a glove.The cinematography is as good as anything i have ever seen,with bright colours for the eve of the attack switching to muted greys as the battle commences.The set designs are first rate and deliver yet more realism to these events.If you are looking for an accurate account of events then this film is for you,likewise if you enjoy your war film with plenty of action.
My only gripe is the obvious patriotic view in which this film is made,with no real insights to the German side of events it is a little unbalanced.I would have liked to have seen the German side also,the planning and execution of such an attack with perhaps an overview of the whole situation around the fortress(a small personal gripe).It was also a little bizarre that the Russians would repeatedly leave good cover to engage the enemy in open ground(did this really happen?)This said it doesn't diminish the film in any tangible way.
The feature has a run-time of 138mins and is filmed in Russian with English subtitles.Filmed in 16:9 format and with a 5.1 surround soundtrack.There are no extras but a trailer which is a crying shame really.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top marks, 9 Oct 2011
By 
Gisli Jokull Gislason "Jokull" (Iceland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fortress of War [DVD] (DVD)
Russian cinema is on the rise, well made films like 9th Company (Single Disc) [2008] [DVD], The Star (Region 2) [2002] [DVD] and The Admiral [DVD] [2008] have been entertaining, lavish but always left me a bit underwhelmed. It was like watching a 30 year old movie when it came to storyline and sometimes background music. A the same time sets and charactersation was most interesting.

Fortress of War come out as a fully mature film and everything comes brilliantly together. The movie is full of characters in strong emotional situations, usually slightly undertoned giving the imagination free rein. The battle scenes are brutal and well made with even clever twist thrown in here and there. The film is about resistance and heroism in the face of danger.

Historically it is very interesting, as Defence of Brest Fortress is important to the Russian and White Russian character. True to life the Brest (Brest in White Russia not France) Fortress was hit by full force when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa. Quickly surrounded the Germans had to fight to capture it 2 years before during the invasion of Poland and attempted to capture it by a Coup de main (A coup de main is a swift attack that relies on speed and surprise to accomplish its objectives in a single blow.) This failed and turned into a costly struggle. The Defence of Brest Fortrees became a symbol of Soviet resistance much like Tobruk for the British and Commonwealth.

For a war movie fan I give this film top marks and for others it is a good film as well for it is a story of human level as well.
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79 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what a War Film should be about, 6 Sep 2011
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Tommy Dooley (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fortress of War [DVD] (DVD)
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!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victory in Defeat, 7 April 2012
By 
Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fortress of War [DVD] (DVD)
Beautifully shot film showing the first days of the Patriotic War. The Brest fortress was in occupied Poland, the piece handed to the Russians in the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact and when they launched Barbarossa it involved the Germans steaming into it. Therefore perhaps not such a good film if you are Polish.

As a depiction of war, struggle, confidence, leadership and pure terror, it broadcasts a haunting piece of celluloid, the last hope. The Russians are split between surrender and holding out on a suicide mission. The film takes its cues from the latter.

The Germans are uniformly horrible, which is true to form. There was no empathy on the Eastern front only wholescale murder, see what happened to Poland under both of these monoliths. The Russian forces depleted by Stalin's purge of the officer corps were headless chickens and this is the crux of the film. A few battle hardened men can stop an army,..for a while. The same message Junger depicted in "Storm of Steel" and this is the feeling emitted by this film.

It shows the dismembered limbs and provides a focus on various atrocities inflcited on civillians, as National Socialism the creed without empathy rolls its tanks across Europe. An accurate depiction of the psychology of the German nation in this era. Men devoid of connection to those they rolled over despite the northern Russians looking more "Aryan" than the average German. Check the young boy and girl in the film.

Well worth watching , it unashamedly bangs the drum for standing up to national socialism, albeit undertaken by driving tanks onto Polish soil and using the population as slaves in the gulags. The latter bit is hidden from view, but there again isn't all history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film about a forgotten corner of the Second World War, 19 Feb 2012
By 
Mark Pack (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fortress of War [DVD] (DVD)
The 29-day siege of the Russian fortress at Brest is, at least outside the old Soviet Union, a largely forgotten piece of Second World War heroism against the odds. It has no easy heroes (fascists besieging communists) and had the additional misfortune of only being revealed by an investigative journalist after the Cold War was already firmly under way. Unlike the heroics in places such as Stalingrad, referred to in many a Hollywood film, the siege of Brest as a result has not achieved similar international cinematic fame.

However, the 2010 Russian film Fortress of War does it and its heroes justice. If you look online, you will find it has scored some bad reviews, but almost all are from people taking exception to it being a subtitled film. The packaging does not make this clear, though personally I'm quite happy to watch subtitled films so it doesn't matter much to me (save that the subtitle of the opening caption is in poor English and clearly missing some parts).

Aside from subtitles, and rather more importantly, the film features very impressive cinematography. Many of the scenes contain snippets of action which are familiar from other war films - plane being shot down and pilot bailing out, desperate soldiers making foolhardy charge and so on. Yet there is a freshness and originality about the way these scenes are framed and shot.

Generally the film seems to stick close to the actual historical account, avoiding some of the myths which have grown up and (praise be!) also avoiding some of the crass re-writing that sometimes goes on to make a film fit a formula. No dropping in of fictional US servicemen to steal the scenes here. (See U-571 [DVD] [2000] for an example if you wonder what I mean.)

It also does a very good job of evoking wider historical themes without belabouring them. The viewer comes away knowing something about the Soviet Union's official blindness to the German build-up prior to invasion in 1941, the chaotic absence of sensible orders in the face of attack, the tension between professional soldiers and political commissars and the fear of speaking your mind, all without feeling bludgeoned by crude symbolism or earnestness in the film making.

Centre stage all through are the soldiers holding out against massive odds, with a high performing cast giving their characters depth. It all makes for an enjoyable watch.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 11 Jan 2012
By 
mr david cairns "wesnut" (kennoway, fife Great Britain) - See all my reviews
Another reviewer said,"not as good as the hype",well,with the greatest respect,I hadn,t even heard of this GREAT war movie,I read the cover,decided to take a chance,and jeez am I delighted I did,Fortress of War is an excellent movie,not just war,and stands on it,s own,it shouldn,t be compared to other greats,Saving Private Ryan etc;FOW tells a true story,it is film-making of a very high quality.
Speaking of quality,the blu-ray picture/sound quality is EXCELLENT,a great advert for the blu-ray format,for all lovers of war movies,Fortress of War is a MUST-BUY!!!!!!!
Davy Cairns,Scotland.
ps,If you dont like sub-titled films,FOW is not for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome war film, 8 Oct 2011
This review is from: Fortress of War [DVD] (DVD)
Bought this after seeing headline of best war film. Wouldn't say it is up there with previous classics but is one of the best war films have seen for a long time.The fact that it is based on true events helps alot.The fight scenes are excellent throughtout the film and the courage of all involved shines through till the end.Highly recommened this film.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Cartoon blood, cartoon planes, cartoon film, 16 April 2013
By 
Everything's just so wrong about this film. Firstly, we have all the cliches a good propaganda war movie should have: snarling Germans; heroic Russians; bullets always hitting enemy targets, even when fired wildly from an upstairs window. Not to mention the melodramatic music and the endless slow-motion segments during the dull battle sequences. After an hour, I'd lost all emotional involvement and had given up on it.

There's an abundance of over-acting - one Russian can't even thrown down his blood-stained cigarette without you thinking he must have been plucked straight from the nearest amateur dramatic society in Minsk. The Germans all look like inexperienced extras, rather than the battle-hardened soldiers they're supposed to be. Arms flail out when people are shot in the most laughable manner. You even get the strange decision to replace the usually realistic blood squibs with CGI technology, making blood spatter look artificial. Even the fighter planes look fake, the CGI rendering them as something more from a cartoon than anything that flew through those skies in 1941. Even the physics of them is wrong. The Stukas dive bomb and pull away at such speeds (impossible speeds), they look like they've been borrowed from the latest computer game. Then the film ends with a shameless nod to Saving Private Ryan at a war cemetery, complete with teary-eyed grandfather. At this point, I would've put my foot through the TV had I not been drifting in and out of consciousness.

All in all, I found the whole thing boring. No genuine characters to care about, even though they're based on real people. No action scenes worth mentioning. The script was flat and lifeless. The editing went AWOL when you need it the most in an action film. And the direction was about as flat as the flattest pancake on Shrove Tuesday. Not a mess of a film, just a forgettable waste of two hours of my life.

Okay, I'm clearly in the minority here, but that won't change my opinion. I've seen too many good war films to know what works and what doesn't - and this clearly doesn't. And if anyone tries to favourably compare this effort to Elem Klimov's Come And See, they deserve to be put up against a wall and shot.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The German siege on Brest during early WWII, 3 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Fortress of War [DVD] (DVD)
A very well achieved war movie on the relatively little known German siege on Brest Fortress in north central Russia (Byelorussia) during late June, 1941. Very well acted, the movie shows how the soldiers of the Russian battalion stationed at Brest attempted to stand over the German siege over several days. Drama is added as the fortress was home of wives and children of these soldiers, and by the fact that is told in first person by one of only survivors, a young military boy. The movie has very well achieved street battle scenes. Good attention is placed to details of Russian and German uniforms, as well as to fighter and bomber planes. Overall, a very good addition to war or war drama movie fans.

It seems to me that a few reviewers are a bit bothered and view this movie as a bit of communist propaganda. I strongly disagree to it. The movie clearly is centered on a historical episode that took place while the Soviet Union was a communist country, so what's the problem with that. In addition, Russians lost this battle, and Germans are depicted simply as an invading military force, without any evident political connotation.

This release comes with a Russian audio and English subtitles (I could see them!!). It comes in a widescreen format and runs for 128 min (not the 138 min indicated on the back cover).
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not as good as the hype!, 7 Oct 2011
By 
Terence Jones - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fortress of War [DVD] (DVD)
This DVD is strong on action but weak on plot and acting.
As a regular visitor to the former USSR I am aware of their tendency to portray the Red Army as being populted by steely-eyed, firm jawed heros!
This in no way detrtacts from my admiration of, and gratitude to, the Red Army's bravery and sacrifice during the 'Great Patriotic War'.

In the scene where the Political Officer is watching soldiers surrender, and he is asked if they should allow this, he replies: 'Everyone has a choice!'
Who do they think they're kidding? What about the NKVD blocking troops? Who had a choice under Stalin?
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Fortress of War [DVD]
Fortress of War [DVD] by Aleksandr Kott (DVD - 2011)
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