Communists versus Nazis!
The bloodiest battle in human history!
I was interested in seeing this from the moment I heard about it. Besides it being the story of an historic Russian victory and the first film from Russia in IMAX, it is by default, a story of life under Stalin told from the Russian perspective.
How were they going to handle all of that?
By keeping the film centered around a fictitious set of Russian soldiers who heroically defend a random building in the center of town where a lone civilian woman lives, that’s how.
Needless to say, the carnage portrayed is nowhere near the historical record, but that’s not really what the filmmakers were after. The character drama allows the film to put the dubious record of the revolutionary peasant workers in more human and small scale dimensions. The film is basically saying, “Yeah, we put up with that dickhead Stalin, but we had dignity and we defeated the Nazis because we were able to find more humanity in ourselves than those dirtbags.”
They let the nationalism surface, but they don’t overplay it. This is film is about feeling proud of being Russian, but it wants you to remember the huge price that was paid. So I don’t begrudge the film for reaching for the brass ring of the Heroic Struggle of the Revolutionary Soldiers. Hell, in comparison to most American WWII films, the emotions of this film feel pretty muted and grim.
The visuals are stunning and there is one scene in particular which portrays the feeling of Armageddon that this battle most certainly embodied.
If this sounds like your thing, do it.