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3.7 out of 5 stars
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3.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 17 August 2011
Exodus or more accurately `Burnt by the Sun 2 - Exodus' is Nikita Mikhalkov's follow up to his Oscar winning 1994 `Burnt by the Sun'Burnt By The Sun [1994] [DVD]. He produces, writes and stars in this as he did in the first part. You do not need to have seen the first part to get this, but it will help to contextualise. Mikhalkov plays Col/general Sergei Kotov, he has been caught up in one of Stalin's' many purges and we find him here being held as an article 58 political prisoner, it is 1941 and so five years on from when he last saw his daughter. This is played by ..... yes his real daughter, who did so in the earlier film too - Nadezhda Mikhalkov (she should now be thirteen but is in fact twenty three). He is about to be transferred to a criminal status of article 129, when as luck would have it the Germans attack in CGI planes and destroy the entire camp except for Kotov and his intellectually challenged son.

The story flits between his story and that of his daughter, who is now a `pioneer' who refuses to denounce her father and is approached by Stalin's henchman and former friend Arsentyev (Oleg Menshikov - in both films) and told her father is still alive. She meanwhile is evacuated from the camp as the Germans advance. In the confusion she gets herself into a number of tight spots which would be plot spoilers if I told you, but you do start to think that even as a cat her nine lives must be quite near to being up at one point. She is now trying to be reunited with her father and he keeps wanting to get back to her, so the scene is sort of set.

Meanwhile father and son have teamed up with a penal battalion (not actually formed until 1942) and take on the full might of the Germans in a very excellent battle sequence with no CGI and real actors, tanks etc.

There is an attempt to be balanced, except where Stalin is concerned, we have soldiers converting to Christianity and Islam, there are some reasonably un cardboard cut out Germans, but it does not hang together well in places. I was reminded of `Come and see' Come and See [DVD]at one point where we have a barn burning incident, but without the raw emotion evinced in that earlier film.

This was panned in Russia and bombed at the box office, despite this being one of the biggest production budgets ever for a film (think Pearl Harbor). It has been criticised for the historical inaccuracies, the painfully obvious plot holes and the lack of any form of subtlety (much in evidence in the slow but brooding `Burnt by the Sun').It has also been criticised for having a version of the war too close to the 'official' version.

It is sprawling, it is not really epic and I am a bit concerned that nowhere on the packaging are we told about the first part. This may be an attempt to distance it from the previous work or sell it here as a war film. It does have battle scenes, there is a lot of gore and some of it is well done, but you do have to suspend belief a bit. If you can do that there is a good 146 minute film. That said I did quite enjoy it, the ending is awkward and we are told `End of Part One'. Well it should be part two and judging by how this was received in Russia and America, I thought part 3 would not be made, but it is already out in the US and is called 'The Citadel'. Nearly four stars but probably three and a half, but for the sake of rating this is just OK.
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on 6 November 2011
This film is in my opinion one of the greatest films to ever have come out of Russia. It certainly stands head and shoulders above some of the more well-publicised war movies we've recently produced in the west. It will leave you full of memories of scenes either tragic, moving, magical or gut-renching, and if you watch it in sections as I did, you'll find yourself longing just to find out what happens next. The camera work is incredible, the way certain scenes unfold is testament to the incredible creative vision of the filmmaker, the acting is so very convincing, the sense of menace in some scenes is spot on, and I look forward to watching the just-ordered sequel "The Citadel" in the next few weeks when it arrives. Whatever you do, go buy this now and watch it.
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A beautiful, haunting, riveting film, that rapidly speeds up from "Burnt by the the Sun" into a whirling metallic maelstrom. Carries within it, elements of Dr. Zhivago, The Ascent and Come and See, but manages to meld them together in a gut wrenching visual nasty depiction of war. A full blood red technicolour horror, lucid portrayal of the German invasion and Soviet resistance.

Universally derided on its release in Russia, its impact is perhaps understandable, as this opens a festering wound; in dealing with politics, carnage and emotional pain.

The men are trapped in a series of vignettes of horror, as they battle with the world around them; the attack on the troop ship, burning people alive in a church, massacring gypsies, raping women, the dying solider wanting a woman, men freezing to death, all vividly splurged without the searing orchestrated strings of Spielberg.

Not the type of heroics Errol Flynn eased into the frame when he liberated Burma single handedly. Instead this digs into the frozen topsoil and then goes through the strata with an ice pick into the hard rock, to expose the worm ridden skulls. It is not a homage to "sacrifice" but an insight into a mind imprisonment; men entrapped by the fear of violence wafting from the screen, caught within a minute by minute tick tock, forever facing imminent death and watching the muscles twitch.

Religion appears as a secret code, when those who believe seek something beyond the sheer devastating carnage. Belief provides one point of redemption, as Islam/Christianity provides an alternative to paying homage to Dictators. The film has to hang onto some element of positivity, otherwise this gets bleaker and colder than a deep dark Russian tundric winter.

Returning to religion provides a meaning to life however it also leads to disaster, see the "30 Years War" for an equal devastation. Another point of redemption, the true kernel of the film are the human bonds forged, played out between the main characters, as they weave their tragic life stories within the scenery of history.

Beautifully acted, it carries on the father and daughter's story from "Burnt by the Sun" and takes the image of Uncle Joe, then rubs his pock marked face into the mire throughout the entirety. Although the man took Russia to victory, he crucified the country for his own glorification. If he had only known, the films they were going to make of him, 80 years later, when he began his purges/killing/tyrrany, perhaps he would have stopped and reflected. This film is a monument to the will of a people who endured Stalin and Hitler plus everything beyond and since.

Beautifully artistically shot, cast and directed, this is brimming with the most bitter humour, complete without buddy heroics delivering the war of "all against all."

The 1930's and 1940's were times when parents/grandparents lived and survived, this film brings home the full pressure those people faced, the complete antithesis to the paradise depicted in "Burnt by the Sun." An outstanding piece of film-making that makes any war effort produced by Britain and the USA (dirty dozen, where eagles dare" Colditz) just seem "boys own" when it stands next to this. Watch it, it towers as a monument reaching out to the psychological insights of Shakespeare when it meets its true match.
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on 2 November 2011
This film's failure in Russian cinemas may well be due to its contrast to the official Russian view of the Great Fatherland War, because 'Exodus' shows there were good and bad on both sides. For instance a Red Cross barge full of Russian wounded is sunk by Luftwaffe Stukas simply because a stupid soldier on board fires a flare at one of them when they are just doing practice runs on the barge. It does not hide German atrocities either, far from it, but was nevertheless perhaps too balanced for the audiences? It even shows a German tank driver with a sense of humour, jokingly handing out a bar of chocolate to a Russian soldier trying to stop the tank with his bayonet! But there are lots of strong and realistic battle scenes here. Some are hard to watch, others moving, others again both. Like the dying badly burnt 19 year old tank man in the film's final scenes, whose simple last wish is so pure and tender.

'Exodus' is perhaps best viewed as part 2 of a triology including 'Burnt By The Sun' and 'Citadel', but also stands well on its own. A full five stars from me.
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on 28 August 2014
An impressive Russian war film with sprawling battle scenes from the most terrible conflict in human history, the consequences of which are still apparent to this day with the current crisis in Ukraine.

Chris Allen is a Technical Author and writer with the following books available through Amazon:
His latest novel is available from Amazon. Click on Parallel Lifetimes
The Beam of Interest: Taken by Storm
Hypnotic Tales 2013: Some Light Some Dark
Call of the Void: The Strange Life and Times of a Confused Person: 1
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on 28 October 2015
Who knows what the film is like? At one subtitle every minute or so it's an exercise in futility to attempt to be carried along by the story. It's effectively a silent movie, with dialogue and music. (Applies to the online Amazon Prime download).
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on 11 February 2016
This movie is outstanding. Thoughtful, thought provoking and well filmed. Authentically gory at times when dealing with WW2 German attacks on Soviet territory - Soviet soldiers rolled over by German tanks in fields of mud. This movie is the second part of a trilogy, but I think that it stands alone very well. I did not watch the first part of the trilogy and it was still very good
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I think it would be fair to call this film something of a curates egg. Whilst it contains some genuinely powerful scenes, it also contains many of utter stupidity. Picture a German co-pilot hanging his bottom out of his plane in an attempt to defecate on a Russian ship. Not something he read in his Luftwaffe training manual I suspect! Then we have the unusual sight of an attractive young medic baring her breasts to a young soldier as his last dying wish. All very nice, but a step beyond the call of duty I should say! On the other hand we see a young soldier with his legs blown off lying in a field where he is slowly covered by snow, which is genuinely moving, as is a scene where a group of gypsies are gunned down in a moment of madness by a German soldier. The new Russia has made a lot of decent films in recent years, but this one falls short of that high standard.

In the film we follow the fortunes of ex General Rotov, played by writer, director Nikita Mikhalkov, who has fallen foul of another Stalinist purge. The actor who portrayed Stalin was a dead ringer incidentally. As a result he finds himself in a labour camp, and later fighting in a penal battallion. We also follow the adventures of his daughter, played spookily enough by Mikhalkov's own pretty daughter. Did I get a whiff of nepotism there? Rotov amazingly comes through two massacres where he is virtually the only suvivor. To survive one is awfully lucky but to survive two stretches credulity a tad. Rotov then manages to survive in a penal battallion, where if memory serves me right they had an awfully short shelf life. The film then ends very abruptly, and very frustratingly with little warning that there is to be another thrilling instalment. I am not sure that I can wait that long!

There is no doubt that the Second World War was largely won and lost on the Eastern front, where Russia suffered immense losses, as Hitler's army and his dreams died dramatically on the banks of the Volga at Stalingrad. The brutality of the German army on their advance through Russia has seldom been matched in the annals of modern warfare. There is a scene in the film lifted straight out of Elem Klimov's far superior "Come and See", where villagers are burned alive in a barn. It should be borne in mind that the Russians executed more of their own men than the number of British soldiers that were killed in that same war. It was such Russian ruthlessness that eventually won the day. History lesson over, but it is knowing this background that helps an understanding of this film. It is no wonder then that the German's in this film are portrayed as card board cut out baddies straight out of the Victor comic. Russian's have long memories, and who can blame them! A huge amount of roubles went into this film, which is clear from the high production values. Sadly all to no avail as it flopped badly. Mikhalkov seems to have attempted to bring the sort of grand canvas to his film that Vasily Grossman brought to his epic tome "Life and Fate", a book also set on the Eastern front, and one well worth reading I might add. It is a brave but ultimately doomed attempt. His own grand ambition is a dream too far to realise, and the film crumbles in the face of its own vastness, defeated like the German army on the steppes of an immense Russia.
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on 20 December 2012
I do not know what to really make of this film? it starts to get interesting then ends up being boring. the battles scenes are spot-on. but,the film seems to have comedy, arguing silliness. I found the film not to my liking and I do regret buying this film.
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on 23 March 2012
For me this went on far too long and the plot just vanished early on. Some strange idea's as well. A german airman hanging his backside out of the plane in an attempt to "bomb" a Red Cross ship and being shot in the head with a flare pistol, a remarkable feat in itself. the remaing German planes them blow the Ship out of the water, with the leading lady surviving and reaching safety by hanging onto a mine, which dramactically, then goes back out to sea and sinks a passing ship, which had ignored her pleas for help in the first place. Far too long and rambling film, most of which should probably, have been left on the cutting room floor.
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