Stalingrad (1993)

Stalingrad - Germany -1993

Stalingrad is a 1993 film by Joseph Vilsmaier, similar to Apocalypse Now and Platoon in its approach to depicting the horrors of war in a realistic and unromanticized fashion.
The movie follows a platoon of German Heer soldiers as they are transferred from Italy and their recent experiences in North Africa, to Russia and ultimately find themselves unwilling participants in the Battle of Stalingrad.
The film was shot in several different locations, including Finland, Italy, and the Czech Republic. It was released in the U.S. in 1995.

Directed byJoseph Vilsmaier

Writing credits: Jürgen Büscher, Johannes Heide
Starring: Dominique Horwitz - Thomas Kretschmann - Jochen Nickel - Sebastian Rudolph - Dana Vávrová

A depiction of the brutal battle of Stalingrad, the Third Reich's 'high water mark', as seen through the eyes of German officer Hans von Witzland and his battalion.

The film begins with a group of German assault engineers enjoying leave in Italy after returning from combat employment in North Africa. The three main characters are introduced at a medal ceremony: Leutnant von Witzland, the inexperienced and idealistic platoon leader; Unteroffizier "Rollo" Rohleder, who is refused his medal when he arrives on parade with an unbuttoned tunic collar, and Obergefreiter "Fritzi" Reiser, whose tendency to direct talk is made evident. As the parade ends, the group is advised they have been ordered to the Eastern Front.
A scene unique to films about the German military follows; a German Army chaplain holds a field service, at which two more characters are introduced; veteran Feldwebel Pfluger who has served at Voronezh, and Hauptmann Musk, another veteran who has lost an arm and who claims to have "absolutely no luck with my right side".
The scenes in the city attempt to capture the nature of combat in Stalingrad. In one scene, Lieutenant von Witzland's men are trapped in a building surrounded by Russians, yet neither side dares make the first move to attack. The stalemate goes on with bodies and the wounded lying in the streets. In an attempt to rescue the wounded and count the dead, the Germans propose a ceasefire between the two sides and to send out some unarmed men. Tension is high. After collecting dog tags from the dead, a Russian soldier pilfers some meat from a dead man. At the same time, a German soldier produces some bread and they decide to share their prized possessions. But this moment of peace does not last long, as a shot rings out, and battle is rejoined. Similar scenes were described in William Craig's book Enemy at the Gates and other books detailing the real life battle.
After a tract of combat scenes, the idealism of the men fades by the time Schütze Emigholz loses a leg and dies while waiting for medical treatment. When the three main characters try to use force to get preferential treatment, they are sent to a Punishment Battalion. Here they meet "Otto", a former officer who served with Hauptmann Musk at Brest-Litovsk. He advises his new friends to tell their families they've died; he's been home and found his wife was a complete stranger to him.
The three main characters are given a chance for reinstatement when volunteers are mustered for a defensive action; the Russians have shattered the Romanian units on the flanks of the German 6th Army and the cut off Army must fight off overwhelming numbers. A detailed sequence showing a Soviet tank infantry attack on prepared positions is shown, and the heroes of the piece earn the right to return to their unit. They are reinstated and given an unsavoury mission - taking part in an execution squad to carry out sentence on alleged civilian "saboteurs".
After the executions even von Witzland - son of a distinguished German officer - announces he no longer feels bound by his soldier's oath. An attempt by three men to escape by faking injuries and boarding a medical flight is unsuccessful, and they are left stranded as the last German transport plane to leave Stalingrad takes off.
Brief respite comes from an airdrop, and an increasing number of unlikely coincidences involving characters from earlier in the film leads the main characters finding salvation in an abandoned warehouse. The characters die off in the last minutes of the film through suicide, succumbing to injuries, and freezing in the snow.

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