Rosy rented this and invited me over. Apparently it was done by the same people who did Das Boot. I don't know if it was the same director.
I really wanted to like it. But unlike Das Boot, reading the subtitles in this movie really obscured the subtleties in the performances. I had a very difficult time identifying with the characters. At one point late in the movie I learned that one particular character was supposed to be a coward. I hadn't been able to pick up on that earlier. I also had some trouble keeping the characters straight. Their voices weren't distinct enough to set them apart while reading.
Another problem for me is I don't know much about the history of the battle for Stalingrad. I think being able to put the characters' predicament in context with the rest of the battle would have helped me a lot. I'm guessing the squad members that were the center of the movie were meant to personify the progress of the Stalingrad campaign. So that was one more thing that left me feeling lost.
Similar to Das Boot, we meet the characters between battles just as they're preparing to embark. Then there's a train ride to the front. This is where we should have learned who the characters are. This sort of device worked well in Das Boot. In Stalingrad, there was a Sergeant, a bit older than the rest, who stood out. There was another guy that was distinctive enough that I recognized him, but I didn't realize he was supposed to be a coward. Then there's the Lieutenant who stood out at first because of his rank, and then remained one of the main characters. By the end of the movie I picked out a few more details about each, but there was nowhere near as much characterization apparent as Das Boot.
There were only a couple of battle scenes. First was some street fighting, where we got to see some early popular characters killed. Ross mentioned how surprised he was to see just how much rubble there was in the streets. At the end of that first battle we see the German and Soviet armies in a lull, across the street from each other in two buildings.
Here, we see some of the fanatical regulations in the German army. They're not allowed to call a temporary truce with the Soviets across the street in order to help the wounded still out on the street. The Lt. disobeys the rule. And I guess that's what got him in trouble. I wasn't real clear on that.
And so on. There was a female Soviet partisan who makes a couple of appearances. She was fairly pretty. She was put in there to demonstrate which characters still had morals by the end of the story. Similarly, there's an evil German Captain that is planted early in the story that the group has to deal with near the end.
I wonder if there's a dubbed version of this movie. Maybe if I had more time to watch what's happening while listening to the dialogue it would make more sense. As it stands, the movie doesn't make a smooth trasition from a straightforward war movie to a group of disenfranchised soldiers. On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Cable with Dinner.
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