Stalingrad - A German - Swedish film - directed by Joseph Vilsmaier
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Stalingrad
Germany/Sweden - 1992
Directed by Joseph Vilsmaier


If you grew up on American films about WWII, then you're used to seeing German soldiers portrayed as big dumb guys who live on strudel and sauerkraut.  In the film Stalingrad, we focus on three German soldiers, all involved in the siege of Stalingrad, where over 1 million people died.  The personalities of the soldiers are revealed and we witness the changes that take place as the stressors of war are relentlessly applied.   Artfully directed, the suffering of the Russian winter and the horror of combat are expertly portrayed.  Some scenes are disturbingly graphic, but how could a responsible film about WWII be made without illustrating the violence?  We found the scenes to be vital to the completeness of the film.

Guenter Rohrback, the producer of Das Boot, was involved as one of the executive producers of Stalingrad.  We thought that the film equaled the quality of Das Boot, possibly one of the greatest films about war at sea ever made.  Joseph Vilsmaier (also directed Brother of Sleep) won the Bavarian Film Award for Best Cinematography (1993).  Stalingrad also won Bavarian Film Awards for Best Editing and Best Production.

Runtime:  132 minutes


Guest Comments

From:  Juan Lopez

"One hell of a movie!!!... I will love to see more movies like this one, when I saw it, became the best movie I have ever seen, until last summer's "Saving Private Ryan", but still ""Stalingrad"" is my second best. How'bout making one even better. Love your work! "


From: "Corey Howland"

"What a Movie","I am a Freshman, in a high school in Oregon and none of my friends like war movies so I rented it on my own. I loved it! It could very well have been My favorite war movie ever its definitely up there with: When Trumpets Fade and Saving Private Ryan."


From:  "SSHaupsturmfurher Gunther J W Jurgen"

"It is one of the best movie I ever seen, the 8th army should have won the battle for Stalingrad and,those pigdog ruskies shot. It's a shame that when you mention atrocities German soldiers comes to mind, Those Ruskies also committed a lot of crimes against their own people too. Well enough of this shit. The film is superb and I have seen it 12 times already."

Editor's note:  It is the policy of "1-World Festival of Foreign Films" to respect an individual's right to expression.  In keeping with that policy, the above comment was duly posted upon receipt.  Also in keeping with that policy, allow me to state that I find the comment disgusting and not in keeping with the "1-World" philosophy that is my purpose to promote.  It is beyond my comprehension that anyone could view this film (12 times, no less) and come away with the conclusion that "SSHaupsturmfurher Gunther J W Jurgen" has expressed. 


From:  "BeePee"

"This film actually had some flaws in character development. Otto, a major character was introduced halfway into the film. Other key characters just disappeared. Historically very acurate and detailed; what you would expect from a German production. Fairly potrayed ethical questions and the humanistic side of both Germans and Russians"


From:  "Luc Beaudet"

"Un exellent film de guerre","Bonjour, j'aimerais dire que Stalingrad est de loing le meilleur film de guerre que j'ai jamais vue, m?me que je l'ai pr?f?r? au point de vue du d?taille et du r?alisme a Saving Private Ryan.  Bravo et continuer votre merveilleux travaille!"


From:  "Jeff"

"Without a doubt the best WWII infantry movie of all time. It shows German soldiers as they really were- young, scared, brave, and loyal to their brother soldiers. Better and more realistic than "Saving Private Ryan"."


From:  "woody"

"This movie sucked it needs to be more realistic, and not this phony bullshit i've seen."


From:  "Swedeboy Henke"

"German Quality","Stalingrad" is probably the most realistic warmovie on the market in these days.  It shows the war in an other perspective and there are no heroes in this battle.  "Saving Private Ryan" is an american-hero movie, but also very wellmade.  "Stalingrad" shows that german soldiers also were human beings. In "Saving Private Ryan" you can see people die, in "Stalningrad" you?ll see them suffer before they die."


From:  "alex"

"One of the worst war movies I ever saw. The director makes an honorable effort to touch such important subjects as horrors of war, human suffering, senseless violence and loss of humanity, but fails to show it realistically (which would be just enough to convey the point). Such scenes as sharing bread and bacon between Russian and German soldiers right after a battle make the movie pathetic and suggest that Vilsmaier didn't find time to consult veterans who survived the Stalingrad ordeal (both German and Russian). An attempt to depict the German army as a great number of mostly good-natured soldiers and a small group of corrupted high-ranking officers is also a cheap trick, which does not work. I think that a 10-minute WWII documentary illustrates the atrocities of war better than 2+ hours of Vilsmaier's film. Too bad."


From:   "Shabadoo"

"While a work of fiction, this movie seems to take actual real-life events (the sewer encounter and the execution of a cobbler's son immediately come to mind) and incorporate them into this movie. I found it enjoyable and realistic as a movie depicting the destruction of the arrogant 6th army (not 8th -- sorry Herr Gunther or whoever the hell you are)."


From:  "Luke"

" For anyone who wonders what the German experience on the Eastern Front was like during WWII this film is a 'must see.' It accurately and vividly portrays the horror of the war from the point of view of the ordinary German soldier. No one can watch this film and think that war is glorious. All the experiences of the war - death, starvation, frigid climate, selfish commanders, committed comrades - are brought to life so that the reality of the battle can be experienced by every viewer. This film is a gritty reminder of the fact that 'war is hell.' There are no heroes, just foot soldiers who are committed to fulfilling orders, regardless of how senseless they are. This is no ordinary war film - it must be seen by anyone who is interested in the war and its effects on soldiers."


From:  "Tucker"

"This movie depicts more of what life on the Russian front was like..Thank you great flick"


From:  "Shawnthebadger"

"City fighting....","Overall, I liked this film. There were, however some misgivings. Stalingrad was a brutal battle of attrition. The battle scenes in the movie were lacking!!! It should have matched the ferocity shown on Omaha beach in 'Private Ryan'. This was true to life combat, were you could see the bullets whizzing by and the legs of men actually flying off. Because the war in the East (Stalingrad especially)eclipsed the fighting ever done in the west, this movie should have been more brutally honest. It was not! As a result, the ferocity in the movie was lacking. Not very graphic at all in the battle scenes.  Also, There were no tank, anti-tank, aircraft, anti-aircraft, partisan, or bitter house to house action. How bitterly disappointing with the title of Stalingrad!  My ultimate wish is for Steven Speilberg to do an account of the Eastern Front, and put real teeth into a movie such as this."


From:  "F. Christen"

"Oh my...","'Stalingrad' is awesome! I just added it to my 'best movies' shelf....
-Alex: Thank you for showing your ignorance. Many German soldiers who fought in Stalingrad were 'victims' of this bastard, Hitler. "


From:  "H. GUDERIAN"

"AFTER WATCHING "STALINGRAD" ONE CANNOT COME AWAY WITH ANYTHING LESS THAN A FEELING OF THE TOTAL TRAGEDY THAT IT WAS FOR ALL PARTIES INVOLVED. WHILE STIRRING SYMPATHY FOR THE GERMAN SOLDIERS PORTRAYED IN THE FILM, IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT HAD THEY NOT INVADED THE USSR THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN NO BATTLE FOR STALINGRAD. I THOUGHT IT WAS A PRETTY GOOD FILM BUT FAILED TO ILLUSTRATE THE IDIOCY OF TRYING TO RUN A WAR FROM THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY WITH HITLER MAKING ALL THE DECISIONS RATHER THAN LEAVING THEM TO THE ON SITE MILITARY LEADERS. IT STANDS AS A MONUMENT TO HITLER BEING A MILITARY MORON & SUCCESSFULLY DOOMING HIS WEHRMACHT TO FAILURE. THE U.S. LOST +/- 350,000 MEN DURING WWII. GERMANY LOST CLOSE TO THAT NUMBER AT STALINGRAD ALONE."


From:  "Terry"

" I was struck by the balance of humanity and inhumanity shown in this film. Most US and UK films about WW2(the new Thin Red Line is an exception) still end up as (veiled) propaganda for the US and UK. Saving Private Ryan was no different - the Germans were shown as near subhuman morons, just like the war films of 30 years ago.But "Stalingrad" had a much more rounded picture of events and personalities. It was not just a mayhem movie, because war is NOT just mayhem. The best war movies appeal to the mind as well and not just to sensation & excitement. Nevertheless, despite the excellent realism and historical accuracy typical of a German film (they even get the haircuts right! - compare the faulty "U-571"),I have to agree that there were not enough combat scenes for a war movie - only two in fact, and the character of Otto was insufficiently developed. Also, some of the dubbed voices - particularly that of the Hauptmann (Captain) were not very good. However, I would still rate it as one of the best war movies of the last 30 years."


From:  "Fred"

"This was a great movie. It showed the horrors of war in a real manner. I don't think it is wrong to see this movie and have sympathy and compassion for the German soldiers. They were also human beings caught up in the madness of war. They were probably many Germans who did not like the Nazis but had to serve their country regardless. I hope there will be more movies like this in the future."


From:  "Hunker Down UGA Dawg"

"'Stalingrad' was unbiased; Very Realistic!, It was a big surprise. I don't understand a lot of the negative press on this one. I get a feel for it that a lot of people have no concept of what the war was like at all. How can they take shots at another culture that simply tries to explain things in their own words. Some people you can never please. That's obvious. 
This movie gave me a view that I've never had. My whole family watched it. It caught us all by surprise and totally surpassed any and all expectations. I've got to show it to my brother. He is in for a treat. I've never been able to see the German point of view of a world war II movie for the entire film. And I loved "Saving Private Ryan." It was a great American war movie that revealed our US troops' point of view. This "Stalingrad" finally gave us the chance to see how the Germans handled things. I liked the German squad leader that was kind hearted and stood up to the evil that existed in his 6th Army. I also liked the way everyone got to see that the Germans were people too. So many times, they seem anonymous like in good war films "D-Day", "Battle of the Bulge", and "A Bridge Too Far. "Not in "Stalingrad" or "Saving Private Ryan" for that matter. In "Schindler's List", we are given the opportunity to see the wickedness of Concentration Camp activities that are carried out by the Nazis. But in "Stalingrad", we are confronted by the German Wermacht army. We are confronted by the every-day German footsoldier instead of the fanatical SS soldiers that have made so many appearances in many Hollywood films. This is good. And if you want realism, you get it. How about all of the weaponry in "Stalingrad". All German artillery pieces are real. I saw the retreating German squad that had survived from a group of 400 men and they were toting a real Pak 40 75mm anti-tank gun out in the snow. Absolute realism. Why were they carrying the Pak 40? That's easy, it's the only defense versus another T-34 Russian tank which was also in the movie and all over the place at that. More actual World War II vehicles included several German Sdkfz 251/1 halftracks and Opel Blitze 2 ton trucks. Another German cannon making the movie was the 37mm "Door Knocker" light artillery piece. And yet some people want to pick this movie apart and take up for some ridiculous Hollywood movie that resorts to painting up US M3 Halftracks and M47 Patton tanks the color grey as in the movies "Patton" and "Battle of the Bulge". They claim that those grey painted vehicles are German, but it is an obvious lie. Those movies look so cheap. "Stalingrad" producers are the winners, and the only losers, or sorry movies, that are out there are produced by Hollywood. So I don't want to hear anymore criticism of this one. It's like taking a shot at "Titanic", and it's awful hard to do that."


From: "George"

"Wow!,'Stalingrad'... I like it! More realistic than Saving Private Ryan! WAR IS HELL!!!"


From: "Alx"

"First of all I'd like to say that this is a movie that you must to see. I like that there are no heroes in this movie - just young men who have to fight (and most of them die) for nothing.  My grandfather who was, like many Austrians in Stalingrad (and just 6000 of them returned home), was always sad when I asked him to tell me something more about the war and this battle in Russia - now I know why. We will never know how they felt but this movie can help us a bit and we should hope that this can never happen again..."


From: "Jazza"

"If war films are to be made so that they demonstrate the true terror and tragedy of conflict they have to be as realistic as possible. We also need to see both sides of the story and this was not done clearly in Stalingrad. Stalingrad may have been a much more interesting film if they showed the dramatic and bloody battles for the Red October tractor factory, the grain elevators or the fighting around the Mamev Kurgan.
Life was cheap in Stalingrad (especially if you were Russian)and the film fails to show this properly. A Russian soldier once said "My only regret is that I have only one life to give." For the record, the best infantry film ever made is the black and white original version of All Quiet on the Western Front."


From:  "Reba Borchers, Texas USA"

"I have watched just about every American film that has ever been made on world war II. When I was growing up, the war was still so fresh on the American palate that asking about a German soldier's point of view would have been unacceptable. Even now, my studies sometimes arouse the unfounded suspicions of others. I often wondered about the German people, the soldiers, the children. I wondered what it must have been like for them...how they felt before, during, and after the war. As a result of my curiosity, I began to study the language and the people and earned a degree in German language and culture study. I have watched every documentary I knew of that was remotely related to the German experience around the time of World War II. Needless to say, all films and text were exhibited within the context of the point of view of the allies. WHAT A REFRESHING EXPERIENCE it was to finally see a film that realistically treated the subject of the German soldier from the soldier's point of view. From the first second of the movie to the last, I was glued to my chair! I believe it to be one of the best movies ever made. I am disappointed that it did not receive more awards and attention than it has. The acting was superb, as was the directing, the cinematography, and all other aspects. I highly recommend this film and wish to thank all of those involved in its creation."


From:  "ZX6R"

"I'm not going to sit here and prettend that I'm some movie critic because that I am surely not. Stalingrad is a great movie. As a grandson of a man who did fight in Stalingrad and was one of the few lucky ones to come home, I'm glad that finally German soldiers are portrayed as people with principles and morals.I, much like many other people who had revied this movie here, am tired of ALL germans portrayed as dumb, murderous morons. My grandfather recalled many times where he and his comrades cursed Hitler and predicted the price Germany would eventually pay for unleashing hell on the whole world. Very well made, great cinematography, good acting. Oh, almost forgot. SS-Fuhrer Gunther....let me be so brave and make a sugestion. Less comic books and ""Combat"" episodes and more history. Unless your numerical pad on your keyboard is made of only 8's, you've gotta be a moron of colossal propotrions to publicly state that the battle of Stalingrad was fought by the ""8th army"". Seriously kid, pick up a book or proof read your own crap. I'm surprised that there is the slightest possibility for morons like you to spawn and live among us."


From:  "Tolstapuss"

"1. Not enough historical background: The movie is from the point of view of a few indivuduals embroiled in an enormous battle. They are brought in to an ongoing operation just before the crucial time. If you haven't already read a book or two about the battle of Stalingrad you won't understand how the situation came about, and why it was so important to each side to succeed in that place. Just a few seconds of background at the begining showing a map would have helped a lot.
2. I was buying the effort to humanize the portrayal of the individual German soldier, right up to the execution scene. Come on, hardened veteran non-coms, after seeing action in Eastern Europe, North Africa, Operation Barbarosa in the Ukraine, and after being in the Battle of Stalingrad for over a year, are shocked to be assigned to a firing squad to execute POW civilians? I don't think so. They did a lot worse than that as they passed through Kiev.
3. Excelent production, I can only agree with all of the comments above praising the costumes, equipment, scenery, etc. Overall I highly recomend the film, I just take it with a grain of salt regarding my second comment."

 

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