Stalingrad (2013 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Fedor Bondarchuk|
|Produced by||Alexander Rodnyansky
Steve Schklair (3D Producer)
|Written by||Ilya Tilkin
|Music by||Angelo Badalamenti|
|Edited by||Natalia Gorina|
Art Pictures Group
Non Stop Production
Sony Pictures Releasing and Columbia Pictures
|Box office||$68,075,573 |
Stalingrad (Russian: Сталинград) is a 2013 Russian action war drama film directed by Fedor Bondarchuk. This is the first Russian movie completely produced with IMAX 3D technology and shot using 3ality Technica's TS-5 and Stereoscopic Image Processor. At the same time, this project is the first Russian language feature film produced using the IMAX format. The film was released in September 2013 in Volgograd and October in Russia before its international release in subsequent months. The film was selected as the Russian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, but it was not nominated. Stalingrad received the I3DS (International 3D and Advanced Imaging Society) Jury Award for Russia in 2014.
The film is a love story set in the early part of the Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943). The story follows soldiers from both sides as they fight to survive while saving the lives of their loves, and struggle with retaining their humanity in the face of certain death and the unspeakable horrors of war.
The film opens in Japan in the wake of the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami. As emergency personnel work to reach victims trapped underground, one rescuer tries to keep the victims calm by telling the story of how he came to have five fathers, all killed during the Great Patriotic War (WWII). The trapped victims are young German students and the rescuers are Russian.
In 1942, after the initial attack at Stalingrad, a group of Russian soldiers take cover in a large five story building after an attempt to cross the Volga river is thwarted by an ambush. The Germans, who have encamped themselves in the same village are led by Hauptmann Kahn; a highly decorated, but disillusioned soldier who falls in love with a Russian woman named Masha, who resembles his late wife. She at first detests him, but soon begins to reciprocate his love, although they cannot understand one another. Five of the fourteen soldiers who survived the ambush and become the eponymous five fathers in the story are Polyakov "Angel" who had become embittered when his wife and daughter were killed in an air raid; Chvanov, whose hatred of the Germans comes from their cruel treatment and methodical murder of his family; Nikiforov, a talented tenor singer before the war, who had become a cruel and vicious fighter; Sergey, drafted into the war as a spotter, and a veteran and hero Captain Gromov who leads the group after finding them, encounter a young girl named Katya, living alone after her family had been killed. As they live together, the soldiers grow fond of her, and she does them.
Oberstleutnant Henze arrives to take command of the Germans as well as back up their regime. He chides Kahn both for his attraction of Masha as well as his failure to secure the town from the Russians. Not to be outdone, Kahn promises to take the town, but not before Henze decides to have it cleansed and burns a woman and her daughter alive. This enrages the Russians who try to ambush the Germans, killing several but losing several of their own men in the process. The Germans and Russians then retreat to their own shelters to wait the others out. One afternoon, Chvanov teaches Katya how to train her gun on a German washing himself at a water faucet and startled, accidentally shoots him, which causes a retaliation that injures Chvanov, who does not regret his choice as the Germans are nothing more than animals.
Elsewhere, during one of his visits to Masha, Kahn also claims the Russians had turned them into animals, and promises Masha to take her to safety when the time comes. On her 19th birthday, Katya is presented by a handmade cake and a song by Nikiforov, whom she had earlier recognized, being a fan of his work. She is then given the gift of a hot bath, and Sergey, after trying to force Katya to leave decides to take her to his old position; a lookout spot from a building not occupied by either the Germans or the Russians, where they spend the night together. Meanwhile, after Polyakov ricocheted a missile into the German complex, Kahn is ordered to begin the attack on them, and he takes Masha to an abandoned building, hoping to save her from the fight about to take place. As she tries to stop him from leaving her though, she is shot by Chvanov for being a collaborator. Nikiforov is taken captive by the Germans, hoping to work as an interpreter between them and the Russians, but brutally stabs Henze and is killed himself. Henze dies, putting Kahn back in charge.
German reinforcements arrive with Panzer IV Ausf H tanks that have the range to take out the Russian high ground in the second floor of their building. They open fire, fatally injuring Chvanov. Kahn shoots Polyakov to death while searching for Chvanov. He then finds Gromov on the second floor trying to raise a radio signal. The two of them shoot each other several times before collapsing as Sergey happens upon the scene and orders an air strike on the building, now being filled by German soldiers. Katya watches with a broken heart as the building is leveled by the attack, leaving no one inside alive.
Back in the present day; as the Germans are freed from the building they were trapped inside, the girl that Sergey (who had been named after his biological father) had told his story to seeks him out, and they share a moment of understanding before he is driven off the site.
- Pyotr Fyodorov as Capt. Gromov
- Dmitriy Lysenkov as Sgt. Chavanov
- Alexey Barabash as Nikiforov
- Andrey Smolyakov as Polyakov
- Sergey Bondarchuk Jr. as Lt. Sergey Astakhov
- Oleg Volku as Krasnov
- Philippe Reinhardt as Gottfried
- Georges Devdariani as Klose
- Yanina Studilina as Masha
- Maria Smolnikova as Katya
- Thomas Kretschmann as Hauptmann Peter Kahn
- Heiner Lauterbach as Oberstleutnant Henze
- Polina Raikina as Natashka
- Yuri Nazarov as Navodchik
The original script by Ilya Tilkin does not have any literary source. The screenwriter studied diaries of the participants of the Battle of Stalingrad. He also used museum archives, documents and recorded stories of its participants.
The prototype of this house is the legendary Pavlov's House in Stalingrad. On the eve of the filming, the script was significantly rewritten by the director and screenwriter Sergey Snezhkin including the plot and dialogues.
The first part of filming took place in autumn 2011 and lasted 17 days. During that time, two key episodes of the battle were shot, in which 900 extras and historical reenactors took part in crowd scenes. The main shooting process began at the end of May 2012 and ran until 27 July 2012.
Colossal scenery was constructed especially for Stalingrad filming at the former factory "Krasny Treugolnik" in St. Petersburg, and the Third North Fort near Kronstadt. Every detail for the movie sets depicting the centre of Stalingrad and the east bank of the Volga were faithfully and painstakingly reproduced, reflecting the vast scale of the battle. The budget for its construction was more than 120 million rubles (US$3.5 million), and it took over 400 people working for 6 months to build.
For the reason that I continue to work on this project, I read all the history of the Battle of Stalingrad. From "Stalingrad" by Antony Beevor and "In the Trenches of Stalingrad" by Nekrasov to "Iron Cross" by Wilhelm Heinrich and "Life and Fate" by Vasily Grossman.
– Fedor Bondarchuk, the director of Stalingrad
It is planned that all German speech will not be dubbed into Russian in favour of subtitles instead.
Fedor Bondarchuk and Thomas Kretschmann have already starred in films with the name Stalingrad around the same time. Kretschmann played a Leutnant in the 1993 German film, and Bondarchuk was in the 1989 Russian film, which was directed by Yuri Ozerov.
Reception of the film was mixed. It was praised for stunning visuals, sound editing, music, and acting, but at the same time criticized for direction and melodramatic plot. According to Russian review aggregator Kritikanstvo.ru, its average critical score in Russian media is 63 out of 100. Such media as Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Vedomosti, Izvestia, Kommersant, and Expert were positive about the film. Several others, including Argumenty i Fakty, Ogoniok, and web publicist Dmitry Puchkov gave negative reviews. Some of the critics were disappointed by the film's plot on patriotic grounds: they felt it does not pay a tribute to the heroes of the Stalingrad battle, but rather concentrates too much on a love story.
According to VTsIOM poll, Stalingrad was the most popular film of 2013 in Russia. 12% of respondents named it as "Film of the year", which is far above 4% for the runner-up, sport drama Legend#17.
On American film aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 48% rating, with an average score of 5.6/10, based on reviews from 69 critics. The site's consensus states: "There's no arguing with its impressive production values, but Stalingrad should have devoted more attention to the screenplay and spent less on special effects-enhanced spectacle." On another American aggregation website, Metacritic, the film has a 49/100 (citing "mixed or average reviews"), based on reviews from 23 critics.
In Russia Stalingrad was a huge box office success earning a total of US$51,700,000, which set a new box office record for contemporary Russian films. It also set the record for opening weekend takings there, with a revenue of US$16,120,000. In the USA the movie grossed just over US$1,000,000.
- Cinema of Russia
- List of submissions to the 86th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Russian submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
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