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)


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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

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very, Very Important Film - Forget About the VO! Jeez!, January 21, 2013
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This review is from: Stalingrad (DVD)
I am quite knowledgeable about the Battle of Stalingrad and the Great Patriotic War in general, so when I came across this documentary, which was a fairly recent, modern production with both German and Russian participation, I was naturally very excited. I have even travelled to Volgograd and toured many of the important landmarks from the battle, so I have spent a bit of time reading the books and watching many of the films made about the battle. I have also read many of the negative reviews written here about this documentary and I have to say that these people must have a real problem keeping things in relative perspective. The lack of subtitles is annoying. The single male voice over artist reading for all of the male witnesses - both Soviet and German - as well as the documentary's story narration is not ideal, but come on... There is no better collection of witnesses, soldiers from both countries, who were there present during this epic battle, anywhere else gathered together... Read more
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Half-Told History, and Poorly Told At That., November 11, 2016
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I'm not usually one for writing reviews, but I feel the need to speak out on this one. I bought this one despite the various negative reviews, the majority of which focused on the English dubbing (which was indeed an unfortunate choice) because of the many reviews which raved about the documentary's historical accuracy, use of previously unreleased footage, and access to rare German and Soviet archives. Unfortunately, these reviews are misleading.

This is a German film, and is perhaps thus inevitably German-centric, really presenting only one side of the battle. Worse, the filmmakers go out of their way to portray the Soviet veterans they interviewed as callous, unfeeling killers, while presenting the Germans as young men unfortunately caught in hellish circumstances. The entire battle is largely presented as a discrete event, with no real attempt made to connect it with the previous year and more of brutal warfare and atrocity as the Germans invaded the USSR. The progress... Read more
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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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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.

4.0


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)


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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