2000s Stalingrad: The Attack, The Kessel, The Doom (2003)

Published on August 14th, 2008 | by Chris

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Stalingrad: The Attack, The Kessel, The Doom (2003)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On August 14, 2008
Last modified:October 6, 2012

Summary:

If you want a good fact-filled few hours of hardcore education about an event of World War II that we in the west don't hear much about, then Stalingrad: The Attack, The Kessel, The Doom is one I'd highly recommend.

Stalingrad: The Attack, The Kessel, The Doom (2003)Stalingrad. The name conjures up many images, none of them pleasant. This 2003 three-part documentary explores the fiasco that was the Battle of Stalingrad, through interviews with survivors on both sides, reenactments, and still imagery. Produced in Germany, I was actually surprised how frank it was, and also on how apolitical it was. Neither side (the Nazis or the Russians) were portrayed as particularly "good" or "evil", but rather both armies got equal treatment. That is to say, only the terrible facts and the stories from those who were there, and how they remembered it.

For those wondering what I'm talking about, in 1942 the Nazis made a huge push into southwest Russia, heading for the oilfields on one front, and attempting to take the city bearing the name of Hitler's archenemy, Stalingrad. The fighting was intense and bloody, and the Germans spent the winter pinned down in "the Kessel", surrounded. It turned out to be the bloodiest winter of the war.

What really makes this film compelling, and curious, is the varied yet familiar stories and opinions shared by the interviewees. The terror of the events is evident in these mens' eyes as they recall the battles, and the desperation of their situation. You can feel the survivor's guilt in some of their tales of escaping the Kessel via airlift.

I've read some other reviews which seem averse to the producers (of this DVD) decision to overdub the interviewees with their English translation. I didn't mind this at all, in fact, I didn't find it distracting or demeaning in the least. It's a documentaary, and you can still hear the original voice and all the emotion underneath the dub. Stop nitpicking!

The facts surrounding that winter and the events were all quite interested. I learned a great deal about the battle that I never knew, except from pop-culture fare like Enemy at the Gates and the like. Sure the sniper battle aspect is touched on, but there was so much more to the story. The near coverup of the defeat by the Germans, the conflict between Hitler and the 6th Army command, the role of the neighboring Balkan states in the fight.... Things that we don't hear about.

The first episode, "The Attack", chronicles the German offensive, and the eventual pincer move which left them cut off. "The Kessel," part two, refers to what the cut-off Germans called their situation, aka "The Cauldron." A place of no escape. In "The Doom," we see the events which led to the inevitable defeat of the 6th Army.

I really can't say much else about it. It's a documentary, there's no other way to put it, but its a very, very good one. I wouldn't suggest it for younger, even high-school, audiences, as some of the stock footage, still images, and eye-witness accounts can get rather grisly and emotional. Neither is it particularly "exciting", but that's how it should be.

If you want a good fact-filled few hours of hardcore education about an event of World War II that we in the west don't hear much about, then Stalingrad: The Attack, The Kessel, The Doom is one I'd highly recommend.

(I *think* this might be a clip from this series, but I'm not positive...)

(and yeah, to those who recommended I review "Stalingrad", I put the wrong one at the top of my Netflix queue! doh. I should be getting the 1993 film soon.)

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Description

German soldiers go from victory to survival mode as their army suffers its first major defeat of World War II.

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)
Brand:
Manufacturer: Synapse Films
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Albrecht Appelt
  • Lidia Arazkaja
  • Richard Bäuerle
  • Hermann Behet
  • Winrich Behr

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-done, both sides, although primarily focused on German survivor stories from Stalingrad, December 18, 2016
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This review is from: Stalingrad (Amazon Video)
Heart-wrenching and maddening true stories of one of the most important battles of WW2. The original footage and interviews with survivors on both sides really brought home the destruction of humanness and brutality of war. Although both sides are represented, I was a bit annoyed that it seemed to be told from the German side about 75% of the time, and I'd be interested to see a Stalingrad docu from the Soviet side. That said, I found it worthwhile that the low-level 20-year old German soldiers were humanized as "not fascists, just humans" (quote) from the point of view of (I think?) a Soviet doctor in the POW camp. Some of these Stalingrad POW's and German dead were low-level foot soldiers caught working for the wrong leader at the wrong time, and brainwashed since 1933 by Nazi propaganda. Of course, this is an excuse, but I have the feeling from watching this documentary that many 20-yr old German soldiers were just caught up, being forced into the draft or... Read more
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91 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Admirable account of the Battle of Stalingrad... Terrible English dubbing, September 11, 2006
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This review is from: Stalingrad (DVD)
This is a fine 3-part documentary (3-hours long) on the Battle of Stalingrad. It is a German/Russian co-production made in 2003 to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the battle that turned the tide of the war. It is a remarkable collaborative effort between the two former belligerents, with unprecedented access to their joint historical archives, both in terms of film footage and documentary records. The progress of the battle is told through the recollections of surviving veterans from both sides, as well as poignant letters home from those who perished. Alongside the better known footage from the German archives, there are rarer clips from the Russian vaults, of life in the city before, during and after the battle, and propaganda films of German POWs in Soviet concentration camps. From the NKVD (KGB/FSB) archives, we learn how, contrary to long accepted historical accounts, Field Marshall Paulus' surrender did not bring the battle to a close - over 10,000 German troops chose to... Read more
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good documentary, worth the money and worth viewing, May 1, 2015
By 
JED (Baton Rouge, LA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stalingrad (DVD)
A good documentary, worth the money and worth viewing. I agree with some other reviews, it is not all that well balanced. To me, it leaned heavily on the Germans with not too much on the Russians. Almost no mention of the German allies and their part in the battle. Very sketchy introduction to the background of the German thrust towards the Volga. Very little about POW's on both sides, except for those who surrendered at the end. No mention of Stalin's mishandling of the initial battle, his insane policy of treating so very many of his own soldiers as traitors, and his execution of over 13,000 of his own troops. Also, I was disappointed that there were no subtitles except in the deleted interviews - which by the way, were among the best. Wonder why they were left out?

In general, I regard the first two segments, The Attack and The Kessel, at good but not great. The final segment, The Doom was probably the best for it's portrayal of the fate of the captured Germans... Read more
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Stalingrad: The Attack, The Kessel, The Doom (2003) Chris

Summary: If you want a good fact-filled few hours of hardcore education about an event of World War II that we in the west don't hear much about, then Stalingrad: The Attack, The Kessel, The Doom is one I'd highly recommend.

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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



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