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3.4 out of 5 stars
3.4 out of 5 stars
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on 5 March 2004
The UK release of this film is a paradox beyond belief!
"Stalingrad" is a military history masterpiece, with a fantastic mix of action, historical accuracy, very good acting and an overall downright unbiased description of the fight for Stalingrad, and the ensuing fate of Von Paulus 6th Army.
This would make it a "must buy" for anyone with an inkling of interest in the subject, but for the way it is presented in the UK.
Instead of doing the sensible thing, and releasing the film in the original speak (German), giving the choice for subtitles or dubbing, the publisher decided to just "force-feed" us a very dubious quality, English dubbed version.
I mean, in a film of considerable drama, at points I nearly had to hold my laugh at the ridiculous German accents that the dubbers used, as it looked more like something fitting for "Allo, Allo" (in all its brilliance) than a serious war film.
Bottom line, do not buy the UK dubbed version and either buy the NTSC version in the original language (which I never had the chance to review) or, if you have knowledge of German, the German release.
Beyond the issue mentioned, "Stalingrad" is a masterpiece.
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on 7 October 2002
Finally released on DVD from EIV, this disc is a disappointment. The master used is the existing tape master for the dubbed vhs release (a subtitled German language tape was also available) and as such doesn't look as good as it could (although it's a decent enough non-anamorphic transfer) and you only get the single dubbed audio option (in 2.0 surround) with pretty much no extras. The film, from the same production stable as Das Boot, is a big production so there's probably material available that could have been used to pad out the release, but as is the case with most EIV releases (that aren't just copied over from the US New Line releases) the treatment in the UK is pretty darn shoddy.
Stalingrad is a great, if occasionally hard to watch, movie following a platoon from their arrival in the titular Russian city through the Eastern Front campaign as seen through their eyes. To say that it's "Das Boot on the Russian Front" is a tad unfair but it perfectly sums up the general mood and direction of the film. It's gritty, it's grim and it's bloody and given the eventual outcome of Hitlers Russian campaign it's suitably downbeat in its conclusion. Production values are high with realistic battle sequences and the characters are given a human face as we see them facing all the hardships the Russians and their abysmal weather can throw at them.
Definitely a recommended film, but sadly not at the top of my list of recommended discs.
In the US it was at least treated to a dual language release with the choice of either dubbed English or subtitled German. This would be a better disc to get hold of if you can track it down.
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on 3 December 2003
This film, as many of the reviews before have said could have been great. Das Boot was an amazing film, tense, and exciting without loosing the original feeling by dubbing. Stalingrad, im afraid to say is ruined by this. Had it been German with English subtitles i believe it could easily rank up there with the best of war films, but as it stands, the emotion, fear, excitment and feeling is all lost by high pitch sqeaky voices and naff acting. The fighting is intense,
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That was the question Job once asked himself in the Bible. If Job had been alive and on the eastern front in World War II he may have found the answer to his question - Stalingrad. The hellish battle of Stalingrad, as seen through the eyes of a small band of German soldiers, is the subject of director Joseph Vilsmaier's visually stunning and brutal film Stalingrad.
Stalingrad begins on the Italian coast where a German platoon enjoys leave after the Battle of El Alamein in North Africa. Recovering from wounds and enjoying wine and German women while sitting along a bright, sunny, beach the men are called to order. A new opportunity for glory awaits them in Russia. Next stop Stalingrad. We see the platoon boarding a train and entering a tunnel in Italy and exiting a tunnel into Russia. We see the platoon's new officer Lt. Witzland writing home to his wife. A stranger to battle, Witzland writes of the glories to come and of his hopes that he will prove himself to the battle-hardened men under his command. As we shall see, Witzland does indeed prove himself but not in the manner he could ever have predicted.
Witzland's baptism starts immediately upon disembarkation on the outskirts of Stalingrad. Horrified at the mistreatment of some Red Army prisoners he protests only to find himself knocked into the mud and sneered at by the powers that be. Word quickly spreads that this callow youth is a "friend of the Russians" and only his father's military background saves him.
The platoon is ordered to take a factory and the horror begins. Amidst flame throwers, horrible deaths and raw sewage all thoughts of romantic heroism evaporate and Witzland soon learns that survival is the one and only rational, if hopeless, goal one should take into war. Witzland's ultimate humanity never deserts him and, contrary to orders, tries to arrange a brief truce so that the Russians and Germans can gather their wounded. The truce is horribly boggled and the platoon's descent into hell continues in lock step with Stalingrad's descent into a frozen Russian winter. The platoon is arrested for trying to jump the line to get one of their men some medication and they find themselves doing duty as human mine sweepers.
The German army is soon encircled by a Red Army break out and despite the devastation they know is forthcoming the fanatics among them commit even greater horrors. As the men wait for a break through that never comes the excesses of the fanatics continues. The appearance of the men devolves along with the situation. The end, the apocalypse that awaits the trapped Germany army is inevitable; only 6,000 men out of more than 250,000 survived the battle or their imprisonment in the USSR. Witzland's final attempt to reclaim his humanity is a stunning one.
The above outline does not do justice to the power of Stalingrad. Although seen through a German lens that captures no small amount of the humanity of the common German foot soldier, it does not flinch from showing the horrors unleashed in the name of the German people, the Volk, and overseen by a series of true-believers for whom no act of violence is too sadistic or too meaningless. Portraying the differences between the typical German foot soldier and the S.S. for example is not new. However, Vilsmaier handles the distinction in an effective and (seemingly) realistic way that neither excuses the behavior nor tries to limit attribution of horrific acts to a small group of less than human soldiers. Brutality is omnipresent but that brutality renders the flashes of humanity evidenced by the platoon all the more stunning.
Stalingrad is a haunting film and one that will linger long after the final credits run.
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on 6 January 2003
My memories of this film, before I bought the DVD, were simply of a soldier in agony, having being torn in half by a tank shell. This movie is especially powerful and memorable because I first saw it eight years ago when I was 11.
Stalingrad is a harrowing and brutal account of platoon level fighting in the titular campaign - scenes come from every stage of the great battle. The action is realistic and bloody without being excessive - while scenes in between serve to build up the viewer's bond with the 5 main characters (Horwitz, Kretschmann etc) as a group but strangely never as individuals.
Stalingrad benefits from being directed by a German as the film is largely impartial to the political background of the conflict (with exception to the 'evil Nazi' Hauptmann) and prefers to portray the futility and brutality of war with the unimaginable suffering it causes to all concerned - the expulsion of civilians into the russian winter and burning of their village is one example.
Referring to the DVD version, I was a little disappointed in the poor dubbing of the German voices, in addition to the lack of many special features that must exist such as deleted scenes.
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on 18 January 2002
This film provides a refreshing look at the war in the east, this time from a German perspective. A non-American influence is a rare commodity in the film industry, especially where war films are concerned. The DVD lacks interesting special features, which is a pity as the film must have a great deal of casting and directional interest. The region 2 version is quite recently released, and I think it suffers from a hasty completion. The dialogue is obviously delivered in German, and unlike Das Boot, this DVD has no way of switching it from it's poor English over-dub back into German with subtitles.
Visually the film captures the horror of the Eastern Front, and the descent into chaos of the Third Reich. All in all a good film that suffers from a hasty release.
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on 24 June 2005
The only reason not to rate it 5-star is the dubbing. It's amongst the worst productions I've ever come across. The movie itself is one masterpiece, in my opinion the best 'infantry' war movie ever made. It shows modern Blitzkrieg-type war, not from the viewpoint of some pathetic hollywood wannabe-hero, but from the viewpoint of the ordinary German soldier. Men with families, regular jobs, dreams and fears. Their illusions of fighting a just war for their fatherland get shattered in battles and mass-murder, and so do their hopes of once returning home. Although the movie misses out some of the most horrifying things that happened on the Eastern front, this movie is to be highly recommended to all those who think that war is cool, or ever was cool, or ever will be.
My recommendation is, try to get hold of a German language version with subtitles. And forget about Saving Private Ryan, which in fact is nothing but the extended version of the American national anthem.
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on 8 June 2006
This is a pretty bleak film, definitely similar (as other reviews say) to All Quiet On The Western Front. I'd also say it is a little like Cross Of Iron, but not quite as good.

It takes you from the relatively upbeat pre-Stalingrad Wehrmacht down through a spiral of ever more violent battles and more and more wretched conditions until the lives of the soldiers literally just peter out. Maybe not dramatic but nonetheless effective, showing how the war ended for many participants in the East.

It won't win any awards for characterisation but I don't think that's the aim of the film, although it may have benefited from more of a feeling of sympathy on an indivudual basis for the Germans rather than a more general feeling of "how can anyone survive through that".

And yes, like many non-English films released in the UK, the dubbing is laughable!!
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on 26 November 2001
Stalingrad is for World War II what Platoon is for the Vietnam war, a cold, hard, realistic look at the war from the foot soldiers point of view. Forget films like Enemy at the Gates and Saving Private Ryan, in Stalingrad there are no Hollywood heros, no catchy punch lines and no sobby slow motion sequences. This is raw in-your-face film making at its best, by the people who made the WW II submarine film Das Boot.
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on 9 March 2003
...I find Stalingrad highly recommendable to anyone interested in a battle that has - with some justification - been regarded as the psychological turning point in a war of attrition between two dictatorships.
Having an army background (military infantry officer) myself, I found great pleasure in watching an infantry platoon "at work" (if you pardon the expression), instead of following a larger unit abstractly. The platoon level provides an excellent opportunity to comprehend life and interaction in a small unit literally under fire. Which the platoon in question certainly is.
In "Stalingrad", I very much appreciated the dramatic way in which the platoon's different phases were described: The relaxation inbetween battles in Italy; the gathering of the battalion and its subsequent departure for Russia; the journey through Russia; the arrival in Stalingrad; the first encounter; the mounting casualties; the conflict between the men on the ground and certain superiors; the uncertainty; the battle fatigue; the chaos; and the ubiquitous and inevitable death.
The actors are splendid, their conversations frank and spontaneous.
However, the reason for only suggesting 4 out of 5 stars is the political correctness inherent in "Stalingrad". On several occasions (for example, during the battle break in the city when both parties send out people to get their wounded, and in the conversations between the platoon leader and the Russo-German woman-cum-prisoner) we are reminded of how unjust the war was, how badly the Germans behaved in Russia and how innocent the attacked Russian were. These incidents are, to be honest, rather pathetic, but luckily not to an extent that completely ruins the general impression of "Stalingrad".
No doubt - the Wehrmacht did indisputedly commit atrocities in the Soviet Union during WW II. But I would have liked the movie to mention the Soviet atrocities as well, both against German troops as well as ITS OWN civilian population. The movie seems to portray the Soviet Union as the innocent victim of German aggression, which it was clearly not: WW II started mainly because Britain declared war on Germany after the attack of the latter on Poland 01 September 1939. But for some "strange" reason, Britain forgot all about declaring war on the Soviets, although the Soviets attacked Poland from the east following the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty.
Germany lost the war, and its conquerors quickly imposed on it a feeling of guilt that may have seemed partly justified in 1945, but which still - as can be seen in "Stalingrad" - haunts movie-making in Germany.
Let me emphasise that the aforementioned political correctness in no way makes the movie bad - but its omission would undoubtedly have motivated the undersigned to suggest all five stars instead of four.
If you liked Das Boot, you will surely like Stalingrad too. I blame neither author nor director of Stalingrad for the political correctness; that ghost is still too firmly rooted in German psyche to be forgotten and omitted in movies about the controversial phase of European history from 1939 to 1945.
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