herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

WHILE less important World War II episodes such as D-Day and the Battle of Britain have been well catered for on the big screen, the turning point - the siege of Stalingrad - has only the so-so

Stalingrad

WHILE less important World War II episodes such as D-Day and the Battle of Britain have been well catered for on the big screen, the turning point - the siege of Stalingrad - has only the so-so Enemy at the Gates to its name.

The movie Stalingrad should change all that, but unfortunately it doesn't.

Director Fedor Bondarchuk brings us brilliant set pieces, 
all pomp and propaganda for 
the heroic Red Army defenders 
in 1942.

Being a Russian import, you'd expect that, but you'd also expect us to root for the characters all the same, given that much of it is drawn from the recollections of actual soldiers.

Here, a group of Russian troops fighting for their lives take refuge in a derelict apartment building containing one occupant, Katya (Maria Smolnikova).

Nearby, the Germans are fighting for their lives, too, with a ruthless captain (Thomas Kretschmann) still having time to have an affair with a local woman (played by Yanina Studilina).

Oddly, it gives plenty of time to the Germans perspective, and while not casting them in a heroic light, shows them as capable soldiers who are just caught in a nightmarish world.

The set pieces are stunning: one with burning Russian soldiers leading a charge is OTT, but it's a fantastic piece of cinematography all the same.

A decent movie that is 
incredible to look at, but with a lack of interesting characters means the battle still hasn't got the movie it deserves.

DVD extras: The two-disc set includes the Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD Digital Copy. There's a making-of featurette about the production of the movie as well as cast and crew interviews.

> MARK EVANS

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