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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 February 2012
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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Supposedly a true story of the Germans advance into Russia attacking a Barracks called BREST occupied by Russians and their families. Very Interesting but with the usual Horrors.
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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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on 29 November 2016
Special effects are bit basic and action leaves you wanting more....

Maybe expectations were too high but action just seemed incredibly forced and not entirely believable. Begginning of movie is extremely slow to get going too. A drag in some places.
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on 19 April 2017
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 September 2011
This is a brute of a movie, full of blood, guts and gore. The first 20 minutes are scene setting, as we gain a snapshot of Russian life before the war. Then, after an awesome bombardment, the Germans arrive. The next two hours then see the viewer exposed to the horrible realities of war as the Germans slowly destroy the fortress. Many modern war films tend to concentrate on character development, with a nod towards romance, as they try to touch all bases. This is not one of them. You really will feel as if you are in the fortress yourself - especially if you turn the volume up on your DVD player - as the bombs, shells and bullets bounce around the screen. I have no idea how much this film cost but you can tell a lot of cash was spent on it. The Mark 3 Panzers generally look good and only the CGI Stukas 'let the side down' in this film. If you want to read up about the start of the German invasion of Russia I highly recommend The Robert Kershaw book War Without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-1942 as it works as a great companion piece to this film.
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on 5 September 2011
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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on 20 June 2012
This is a solid Russian war film about the German attack in July 1941 on the fortress of Brzesc.

Originally a Polish barracks the complex was taken over by the Soviets after the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement came into force and Hitler and Stalin carved up Poland between them.

There are solid action scenes with the equipment looking authentic and the action believable.

Eventually the fortress is pounded into rubble, but the achievement of the garrison which was taken completely by surprise was to hold up the German advance and not allow them to simply rollover them.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 6 September 2011
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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on 14 September 2011
owing to all subtitles. not being
viewable. e.g. Seconed line. beneath
Film. Had to reduce PICTURE SIZE to
4:3. this PRESENTED together. ALL
in a correct formatt..
But I do have a large Sceen
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