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Time Out says
Tue Feb 25
If you haven’t been put off by the Sochi Games and their “Get Lucky”–singing police choirs, you should know there’s more epic strangeness on the way. Russia’s biggest box-office draw of all time is opening in America: a nationalistic pageant suffused with the same rebranding (by careful omission) that marked the Olympics’ opening ceremony. Turns out they’re pretty good at it.
Stalingrad takes WWII’s bloodiest battle—the German-Russian standoff that claimed an estimated 2 million lives—and simplifies it into a skirmish between five Soviet heroes (plus one downtrodden woman who becomes their symbol of home) versus a small detachment of Nazis who attack to reclaim the occupied building. At first, the idea seems ingenious, but inevitably, complexity is sacrificed: The Russians are either jokey-brave or sincere-brave, while a vicious German colonel, usually seen eating or yelling, is your typical pig.
Details, shmeetails: The appeal here is an almost choking sense of grandeur. Every moment is filled with slo-mo explosions, a constantly drifting camera, a computerized grayscape (much like Saving Private Ryan’s) and a chest-beating orchestral sweep by Twin Peaks’ Angelo Badalamenti. Hollywood does this too; truth be told, Russia’s high-tech whitewash goes down smooth like vodka.
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf
Author: Joshua Rothkopf
Fri Feb 28, 2014
Cast and crew
Thomas Kretschmann, Yanina Studilina, Mariya Smolnikova, Pyotr Fyodorov