Stalingrad (2013)



Director:     Fedor Bondarchuk.

Starring:     Mariya Smolnikova (Katya), Yanina Studilina (Masha), Pyotr Fyodorov (Kapitan Gromov), Thomas Kretschmann (Kapitan Kan), Sergey Bondarchuk (Sergey Astakhov), Dmitriy Lysenkov (Chvanov), Andrey Smolyakov (Polyakov), Aleksey Barabash (Nikiforov), Oleg Volku (Krasnov), Heiner Lauterbach (Khenze), Polina Raykina (Natashka), Anna von Haebler (Nina), Yuriy Nazarov (V roli navodchika), Mariya Sittel (Perevod rechi premer-ministra Yaponii chitaet (voice)), Petar Zekavica (Yurgens).

 the fight to hold a strategic building during the Battle of Stalingrad



Spoiler Warning:

"Today, March 11th, I received the tragic news of an unprecedented earthquake of magnitude 9 and the destruction caused by the tsunami.  The number of victims is growing steadily and the extent of the damage caused by this disaster is impossible to assess at this moment.  Foreign volunteers are joining our massive rescue efforts."  Some Russians come to help.  They are working on getting five women out from a collapsed building.  They get a camera into the space where the women are.  A doctor asks questions about their situation and Nina answers for the group.  Nina mentions her father, says she misses him so very much and starts crying.  The doctor tells her not to cry, or she will use up the oxygen supply.  He says he had five fathers and now they are all dead, but you don't hear him crying.  Nina says it's impossible to have had five fathers.  The doctor says oh what does Nina now about him.  "It is possible."

Flashback.  Stalingrad, autumn, 1942.  The Russians cross the Volga River to gain a foothold on the other bank.  They want to stop the Germans from taking Stalingrad and the river access. 

A German officer tells Kahn that the Russians are coming.  He then tells Kahn to go blow up the German tanks.  Meanwhile, Russian scouts have arrived in the city.  They eliminate a German guard.  They then sneak over to a briefing being giving by another German officer.  A fight starts and a bunch of Germans are killed and a few Russians.  The lead scout now tries to cut the wires to the German detonator to stop the Germans from igniting the explosives planted around the area to stop the Russian advance.  A German jumps on the lead scout and knocks him out.  He then sets off the detonator and explosions go off all over the area. 

Despite the explosions, many Russians make it to the top, but many are already on fire literally.  The Germans start retreating from their positions because they don't want to be burned to death along with the Russians. 

Inside the building five Russians come together.  Also there is a young Russian woman, the Russian doctor's future mother.  So this is how the doctor could tell Nina that he had five fathers.   The building where his mother lived completely blocked off one of the exits to the Volga River.  The Russians have captured the building only to leave it.  His mother was a few day away from her 19th birthday. 

More survivors from the attack come to the building.  There were sailors, mobilized factory workers and a few sappers. 

The girl's name is Katya.  Katya assumes the duties of filling the canteens with water for the soldiers.

The scout leader is now the leader of the soldiers and sailors in the house.  A Warrant Officer named Kraznov introduces himself to the commander, whose name is Gromov. 

A German officer watches the building and starts counting the number of men there. He wants to know why that building across the way is full of Russians.  He wants the building retaken in the morning. 

Kahn keeps a pretty blond Russian girl in food.  She reminds him of his wife back in Germany.  He tells others in the building that if they take any of his girl's goods he will shoot them. 

Gromov tells the men that they have to hold the building, because if the Germans can take the building they will plant more explosives at the river crossing to stop the next Russian attack. 

The Germans have rounded up the surviving Russian citizens in the area.  It looks like they are going to kill the citizens.  They see one woman who looks Jewish to them. They take her and her little girl and confine her to a  little shack.  Then a soldier with a flame thrower burns the shack down to the ground.  Gromov gets very angry at this and shoots the flame thrower's tank causing him and his assistant to be burned up too.  Then Gromov leads his men outside onto the square to kill as many Germans as they can.  They kill quite a few Germans, but they lose some of their own men too.

The Germans retreat, but now start lobbing motor rounds onto the Russian soldiers.  The Russians start running for their very lives.  They take up their positions in the building.

Khan goes to see his girlfriend.  She is alright.  He rips off her dress. 

Katya serves as a nurse to bandage the men's wounds.  She patches up a soldier named Sasha.  She tells him she knows who he is:  an opera singer.  Her mother and sister just loved Sasha's singing. 

The Russians killed 14 Germans, but lost 6 of their own men.  Two Russians soldiers go to a downed German bomber to get its machine guns.  The Germans, however, are already in the process of taking the machine guns.  Sasha sneaks up on the Germans and kills all three men. 

Kahn has raped the Russian girl called Masha.  She lays on the bed and sobs.  And now he starts to feel guilty. 

The Russian soldiers are curious about how Katya survived under the Germans.  This upsets Katya so she tells the men to go ahead and just ask her what they want to know.  She starts crying and leaves the room.  The warrant officer tells Polyakov to go to Katya and calm her down.  Polyakov talks to her soothingly. He talks to her about his family and how happy he was.  The truth is that Polyakov's family died in Moscow during a bombing raid in October, 1941. 

Masha gets treated badly by the locals for being the whore of a German soldier. 

Sniper Chvanov shows Katya how to target a person for the kill.  Katya sites in on a German soldier getting some water.  Chvanov tells her to pull the trigger.  She does and hits him right in the chest.  This makes the commander angry because he says you don't kill soldiers getting water.  Chvanov says he doesn't care because the Germans killed his 7 year old brother just because he was named Vladimir Ilyich, just like Lenin.  Now the Germans start firing at the sniper position.  Chvanov is almost hit by a bullet. 

The Germans have decided to move the Russian civilians from where they have been staying.  The commander finds Kahn with what he says is a Russian whore.  He criticizes Kahn for his lack of solidarity with the men who are fighting and dying to take Stalingrad.

The Russian commander tells Katya to go with soldier Sasha Nikiforov.  He wants her gone because he says his men are fighting more over her than to over killing the Germans.  If the Germans kill Katya, his men will fall apart.  Katya explains that she wants to stay here and kill Germans.  She shows him her passport with her date of birth on it.  The commander realizes that it's Katya's 19th birthday today.  He wishes her a happy birthday. 

Gromov sees that the Germans are planting explosives at a place where Gromov can't get at them.  The Russians are trying to cross the Volga again and the Germans are hitting them with their rockets.  Soldier Astakhov tells Gromov that he will take the local German soldiers out with the cannon they have. 

Thousands of civilians are being moved from the battle zone.  They are taking them to the railway to ship them out.  Kahn comes looking to find Masha.  He keeps yelling her name out.  She hears him, but she can't see him.  Kahn hops on a motorcycle with a sidecar and barrels up the center of the moving crowd.  He finds her and tells her to get on. 

Astakhov bounces his one shell off the turret of an abandoned tank.  The shell ricochets off the turret and explodes amidst the explosives the Germans are setting up.  This inflicts a lot of casualties on the Germans in the area.  The Russian soldiers with him are now proud of Astakhov, who they had been unfairly calling him a "coward". 

Kahn takes Masha with him to go see the commander, who is livid to see Kahn still with the woman.  He says he is going to kill the woman himself.  Kahn ignores him saying that first, he's going to take that building with the Russians in it.  The colonel tells him that if he doesn't take the building, he will have Kahn executed.

Some of the soldiers rescue a large bath tub as a birthday present for Katya. 

Kahn tells a sergeant to fix up his tank's cannon because the soldiers are going to take the Russian building.  He also speaks to the men who will be doing the attacking. 

Gromov sets up a trap for at least some of the Germans.  They cover themselves with the dead bodies in a room and wait for the Germans.  The Germans shout that everyone is dead in the room and relax a bit.  The Russians jump up and start killing the Germans. 

Kahn comes back to the colonel in disgrace.  The colonel does give him another shot at it.  And now Kahn has use of the fixed cannon of the tank.  The tank opens fire on the building, but then the cannon mechanism gets stuck again. 

Gromov and Katya were almost killed by the explosion of the shell, but they survived.  The commander now begs Katya to get out of the building.  She refuses.  She and Gromov kiss. 

Kahn is with Masha again.  He tells her that he loves her. 

The Russians have a birthday party for Katya.  Sasha sings for her at the party.  There's only six soldiers left. 

Kahn decides to hide Masha up in a fire tower for one day.  He moves Masha at night. 

Astakhov tells Katya that he loves her.  She says:  "Yes, I know."

Chvanov the sniper kills Masha for being a Russian whore to a German.  Kahn witnesses her death. 

Sasha goes out looking for Astakhov and Katya.  He kills three Germans on his way.  Kahn spots the Russian soldier and shoots him down.  He then takes Sasha to see the colonel.  Sasha kills the colonel with his knife and then is killed by Kahn. 

Reinforcements arrive for the Germans.  Now Kahn has many working tanks at his disposal.  He gives a command that all the tanks fire into the Russian building across the square. 

Astakhov and Katya hear the tanks.  Astakhov tells her to wait right here while he goes and helps the other four survivors. 

The tanks move forward followed by the German troops behind them.  They blow the building apart.  Chavnov is dead.  The other three are alive.  Krasnov dies.  The commander and Polyakov are still alive.  Polyakov takes out quite a few Germans with two grenades and his submachine gun, but then Kahn kills him with his pistol. 

Only Gromov and Astakhov are still alive.  Kahn rushes upstairs and finds Gromov trying to talk over the radio to headquarters.  The two men shoot each other down with their pistols.  Astakhov arrives and finds the two men dying.  Gromov tells him to order an air strike on the building.  Astakhov tells Gromov that Katya told him to tell the commander that she loves him very much. 

The bombs start dropping on the building and now the whole structure collapses.

Narrator:  "This was Stalingrad November, 1942.  Still to come were months of bloody fighting that would turn the tide of human history and the history of my great country.  Mama wanted me to always remember the people to whom millions upon millions owe their lives and freedom.  And though she named me after my father, Sergey [Astakhov], she always said that I really had five fathers."

Back to the present.  Nina is now rescued.  She asks for Sergey, the one who talked to her when she was trapped.  A rescuer tells her he's in the truck over there.  She goes to the window and Sergey puts his hand on Nina's shoulder.  The driver of the truck starts up the engine and pulls away. 



The film was good, but I don't like historical films that are too focused on one building in a city under fire.  For others, the film is just fine.  There was lots of fighting and other action and it keeps the viewer on edge, which is good.  But if you are only going to watch one film on Stalingrad, this shouldn't be the one. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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