Friday 21 February 2014

"Stalingrad" (The Guardian 21/02/14)

Stalingrad **
Dir: Fyodor Bondarchuk. With: Mariya Smolnikova, Yanina Studilina, Pyotr Fedorov, Thomas Kretschmann. 131 mins. Cert: 15

This long-haul, Russian-language WW2 drama deploys a curious bookending device – involving Russian rescue workers hauling Germans from the rubble of Fukushima – to frame an equally bizarre main event: a part-recreation of the grimness of the siege of Stalingrad using the same 3D we're more accustomed to from the likes of, say, The Lego Movie. The perverse spectacle (child-torching, prostitute-stripping, endless flying ash) offered as compensation for some indistinct characterisation gets muffled by this format’s limited light capacity: those few scenes not choked with self-importance instead succumb to a greyly macho fug of war. The subtext – Russia endures, flexes muscles anew – doubtless makes it President Putin’s pick of the week, but someone should really take him to see the Lego film. 

Stalingrad opens in selected cinemas from today.

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