Stalingrad (1993 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joseph Vilsmaier|
|Produced by||Hanno Huth
|Written by||Jürgen Büscher
|Music by||Norbert Jürgen Schneider
Peter von Haller
|Edited by||Hannes Nikel|
|Distributed by||Senator Film (Germany)
Strand Releasing (USA)
Stalingrad is a 1993 war drama film directed by Joseph Vilsmaier. The movie follows a platoon of World War II German Army soldiers transferred to Russia, where they ultimately find themselves fighting in the Battle of Stalingrad.
The film is the second German movie to portray the Battle of Stalingrad. It was predated by the 1959 Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben (Stalingrad: Dogs, Do You Want to Live Forever?).
In August 1942, German soldiers enjoy leave in Cervo, Liguria, Italy after fighting in North Africa. An assembly is then held and several of the men are awarded, including Unteroffizier Manfred "Rollo" Rohleder (Jochen Nickel) and Obergefreiter Fritz Reiser (Dominique Horwitz), who are both introduced to Leutnant Hans von Witzland (Thomas Kretschmann), their new platoon commander. The unit is promptly sent to the Eastern Front to participate in the Battle of Stalingrad.
Witzland's platoon joins a company commanded by Hauptmann Hermann Musk (Karel Heřmánek). Musk leads an assault on a factory, which results in heavy casualties and the survivors being surrounded in a decrepit building. After a botched ceasefire to rescue some wounded outside, they capture Kolya, a young Russian boy. The Russians attack again the next day, and Kolya escapes in the confusion. With the radio not working, von Witzland, Reiser, Rollo, Emigholtz (Heinz Emigholz), "GeGe" Müller (Sebastian Rudolph) and Wölk (Zdenek Vencl) enter the sewers to go for help. Witzland gets separated from the others and captures a Russian soldier named Irina (Dana Vávrová), who offers to lead him to safety in exchange for her freedom, but when he is not looking she pushes him into the water and escapes. His men rescue him, and Emigholtz is found severely wounded by an explosive trap; they take him to a crowded aid station, where Reiser forces an orderly at gunpoint to work on him. Emigholtz dies anyway, and they are arrested by Hauptmann Haller (Dieter Okras), who has already clashed with von Witzland. They end up in a penal battalion disarming land mines.
Four weeks later, a brutal winter has set in and the Soviets have utterly surrounded the German Sixth Army. Hauptmann Musk thus reassigns the penal battalion — which includes disgraced fellow officer Otto (Sylvester Groth) — to combat duty. Witzland's platoon defends a position from a Russian tank column, and emerge victorious after a bloody battle (during which Wölk is killed). Hauptman Haller later orders von Witzland and his men to execute some unarmed civilians, including Kolya, whom Witzland tries to save but to no avail.
The horrors of the siege finally takes their toll on the men; Witzland, GeGe, and Reiser thus decide to desert and head towards Pitomnik airfield in hopes of catching a plane back to Germany, stealing medical tags from some dead bodies along the way to feint being injured. By the time they arrive, the last transport leaves without them as the base is shelled by Russian artillery. They rejoin the others in the shelter, where they find Musk suffering from severe trench foot. A German aircraft suddenly drops a container full of supplies, and the men rush out to devour its contents. Haller appears and holds them at gunpoint, but is subdued by von Witzland and shot by Rollo; Haller accidentally shoots GeGe as he falls, killing him. He then pleads for his life, telling them about the supplies he is hoarding in a nearby house before being executed by Otto.
In the house's cellar they find shelves stocked full of food and liquor, and Irina tied to a bed. Von Witzland cuts Irina free and befriends her; she reveals she was a German collaborator, and both share in their despair and disillusionment. As the rest of the men gorge themselves, a deluded and dying Musk tries to rally them to rejoin the fighting. Otto becomes hysterical and commits suicide. Rollo, the only one to obey the order, is last seen carrying Musk's corpse outside, only to find the Sixth Army surrendering to the Russians.
Irina offers to help Witzland and Reiser avoid capture, but while trudging through the snow they are shot at by the Soviets; Irina is killed and Witzland is mortally wounded. The Germans get away, but Witzland eventually becomes too weak and dies in Reiser's arms. Reiser cradles his body, reflecting on his time spent in North Africa before freezing to death.
- Dominique Horwitz as Obergefreiter Fritz Reiser
- Thomas Kretschmann as Leutnant Hans von Witzland
- Jochen Nickel as Unteroffizier Manfred "Rollo" Rohleder
- Sebastian Rudolph as GeGe Müller (nicknamed GeGe to distinguish him from other Müllers)
- Dana Vávrová as Irina
- Martin Benrath as General Hentz
- Sylvester Groth as Otto
- Karel Heřmánek as Hauptmann Hermann Musk
- Heinz Emigholz as Edgar Emigholz
- Ferdinand Schuster as Double Edgar
- Oliver Broumis as HGM (Müller)
- Dieter Okras as Hauptmann Haller
- Zdenek Vencl as Wölk
- Mark Kuhn as Unteroffizier Pflüger
- Thorsten Bolloff as Feldmann
- Alexander Wachholz as Pfarrer Renner
- J. Alfred Mehnert as Lupo
- Ulrike Arnold as Viola
- Christian Knoepfle as Dieter
- Flip Cap as Ludwig
- Jaroslav Tomsa as Opa Erwin (Grandpa Erwin)
- Pavel Mang as Kolja
- Otto Sevcík as Major Kock (as Oto Sevcik)
- Jophi Ries as Schröder
The film was shot in several locations, including Finland, Italy, and Czechoslovakia, and took much effort to make. Director Joseph Vilsmaier had a German military consultant with him on set. A series entitled "The making of Stalingrad" was released, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the film.