The Turning Point (Великий перелом) is a 1945 film from the Soviet Union, directed by Fridrikh Ermler.
It's a fictionalized account of the battle of Stalingrad. As the film opens the Russians are in desperate trouble. It seems certain that Germans, who are bearing down on the city with all their might, will capture Stalingrad. And after they capture the city, they may wheel north and take Moscow.
Enter Col. General Muravyov, a dynamic commander who has been charged with saving the city. As he explains to his staff upon taking command, his goal is not just to stop the Germans, but to defeat them.
One of eleven films to win the Palme d'Or in 1946; Cannes was making up for lost time after World War II interrupted the ceremony for five years.
- Battle in the Rain: Most of the film focuses on Muravyov at headquarters but there is a scene of Russian and German soldiers fighting hand-to-hand in a pouring rainstorm.
- Disposable Woman: There's one brief scene in which Muravyov meets his wife—the chaos of war has separated them for a while, as he's on active duty and she's a civilian nursing volunteer. Soon thereafter we learn that Mrs. Muravyov was killed. The whole point of this is only to demonstrate how tough Muravyov is, as he powers through a staff meeting after getting the news, only to break down after everyone leaves.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Krivenko gets good and drunk after Muravyov relieves him of command of the forces inside the city. It turns out that Muravyov was saving him to lead one of the attacking armies in Muravyov's great envelopment.
- Fatal Family Photo: Inverted. Muravyov shows his wife a recent picture of him and their daughter, but it's his wife that's killed immediately after, not Muravyov.
- The Ghost: Von Klaus, the German commander. Muravyov spends the whole movie worrying about him and speculating about his plans, but we don't see him. When we do see him right at the end, he doesn't talk.
- Match Cut: From a shot of Muravyov and Pantaleyev on the top of a hill overlooking the city, to a shot of Muravyov and Maryev in the latter's office as Muravyov contemplates the difficulty of his task.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- The Oner: One scene that lasts quite a long while is a series of agitated Russian radio conversations, as Soviet commanders demand information and give orders. While all these high-stress conversations are blaring on the soundtrack, the camera remains in a tight, fixed closeup on the face of a dead Russian soldier.
- The Strategist: Murvayov, who comes up with a clever plan to defeat the Germans: lure them into Stalingrad, fighting hard enough to keep them from overrunning the city but not so hard that the Germans withdraw. Then attack the Germans outside the city on both flanks, meet in the German rear, surround them, and destroy them. This is what happened in Real Life.
- Title Drop: In the last scene Murvayov pronounces that "the turning point is reached." As indeed it had been, as everything was downhill for the Nazis after that.
- Urban Warfare: With a good helping of Scenery Gorn depicting the battle of Stalingrad.