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Film / Stalingrad (2013)

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Stalingrad is a 2013 Russian war film directed by Fedor Bondarchuk, set in the fall of 1942 during the famous World War II battle of Stalingrad.

Five Russian soldiers (Capt. Gromov, Chavanov, Nikiforov, Polyakov, and Sergey Astakhov) are dug into a blasted-out apartment building in the heart of Stalingrad, which they are defending from repeated assaults by a German unit led by Hauptmann Kahn (Thomas Kretschmann). The apartment building is home to Katya, a young Russian maiden who simply refuses to leave her apartment. Hauptmann Kahn, for that matter, has a Russian girlfriend named Masha who he is keeping in the bombed-out basement that he uses as a headquarters.

Stalingrad received mixed reviews from critics but was Russia's most popular film of 2013. One of over a dozen films in which Thomas Kretschmann played a World War II German soldier, including a 1993 German production with the same title as this film. For a Western-made Soviet POV film on the battle, see Enemy at the Gates (which is also titled Stalingrad in some countries).


  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The Squad prepares a birthday party for Katya, complete with some cake they managed to scrounge, an aria from Nikiforov, and a hot bath in a tub that they stole from another ruin.
  • Anti-Villain: Arguably Hauptmann Kahn, who is kinda of the Only Sane Man between Those Wacky Nazis. Or maybe because he's a lot nicer than his Oberstleutnant.
  • Bald of Evil: Oberstleutnant Henze.
  • Big Damn Hero: Hauptmann Kahn saves Masha right when she was about to get on a train to be deported.
  • Bullet Time: Used on a few occasions, including one where Katya and Gromov duck out of the way of an artillery shell and another where the Russians bounce a shell off a tank and into the German command post.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Masha, Hauptmann Kahn's lover, who is living with him in the rubble. The film views her sympathetically, but the other Russian civilians struggling to survive definitely view her as a collaborator.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Sergey Astakhov jr. is The Narrator.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Chvanov teaching Katya how to shoot: he starts by telling her to lie down besides him, then Katya grabs without hesitation his huge rifle and after just one shot she goes from being an innocent creature to being a killer.
  • Framing Device: A seemingly unnecessary one set in the ruins of the 2011 Japanese earthquake, in which a Russian aid worker tells a German civilian trapped under rubble the story of his "five fathers" and his mother Katya in the ruins of Stalingrad.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the end, as the Germans are overrunning the building, Sergey calls in a Russian artillery barrage that bombs the building to rubble.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Basically, this movie is to World War II what 300 was to the Persian invasion of Greece.
  • Human Sacrifice: Sort of...Oberstleutnant Henze orders to burn alive a woman and her daughter in a weird kind of propitiatory rite. Even Hauptmann Kahn is definitely shocked.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Nikiforov, captured by Kahn, goes meekly to the German HQ, where he reveals that he speaks German and will cooperate with the interrogation. When Kahn's CO comes over to ask him questions, Nikiforov pulls a knife and stabs him in the gut several times before the other Germans shoot him to death.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The fate of many Germans soldiers in this movie.
  • Lap Pillow: In a heartwarming scene Katya fall asleep in Polyakov's lap while he tells about his wife and daughter.
  • Last Stand: An epic one, as the Russians inside the apartment building are defending it at all costs and to the last man.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: The movie starts with The Narrator explaining to a German girl how he could have five fathers
  • Man on Fire: An entire Russian attack consisting of Men On Fire, after they have to charge through a German bombardment.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Masha receives the standard neat hole in the forehead.
  • Pinball Projectile: Soviet soldiers shoots at occupiers using field gun and burnt tank to change trajectory of its shell.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After witnessing innocent civilians getting cremated alive, Gromov snipes the offending flamethrower infantry, runs into the stairwell firing his gun wildly into the air all while furiously ordering his men to rush outside and kill every German soldier they see. A brief firefight ensues, quickly turning into an all-out brawl, knives, shovels and all. Hauptmann later delivers one back to the Russians after Chvanov shoots Masha in the head.
  • Rule of Drama: Like 9th Company (by the same guy), the film has been criticized by some Russians for taking historical liberties. So much that there was even a petition to boycott the movie in Russia. Considering that the movie was released only a few months after Company of Heroes 2 (which is banned in Russia), this is hardly ever surprising. The petition went nowhere, and the film went on to become one of the highest-grossing movies in Russia in 2013.
  • Shovel Strike: One of the weapons our heroes use is shovels when they get up close to the enemy, as was true in real life.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Sergey impregnates Katya, resulting in The Narrator of the film, right before dying in the final German assault on the building.
  • The Squad: A typical five-man group, consisting of one officer and the four men dug in with him in Katya's building.
    • The Leader: Capt. Gromov, who tries to get Katya out of the building, both to protect her and to remove her as a distraction for his squad, whom he worries are focusing more on protecting her than they are defending the building.
    • Friendly Sniper: Chvanov, who is friendly enough when he isn't shooting his rifle. He teaches Katya how to shoot and walks her through plugging a German soldier in the chest. However, he doesn't hesitate to put a bullet through Masha's head.
    • Communications Officer: Sergey is the radio man.
    • The Big Guy: Nikiforov, the burly opera singer who rarely talks.
  • Storming the Castle: The final, all-out, tank-supported German assault on the apartment building.
  • Tank Goodness: A panzer unit changes the equation for Kahn and the German outfit attacking the building.
  • Team Mom: Katya looks after the squad defending her building.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: With Gnarly Weapons, no less.
  • Urban Warfare: Quite a lot of money went into dramatizing the fighting at Stalingrad. The struggle over the apartment building was inspired by the Real Life fight for "Pavlov's House" in Stalingrad.
  • The Voiceless: Nikiforov never talks, which is why his comrades express incredulity when Katya tells them that he was a famous opera singer before the war. Sure enough, he delivers an aria later in the film.
  • War Is Hell