Skip to main content

Originally published Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 3:05 PM

  • Share:
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

‘Stalingrad’: Visually striking 3D subtitles win this battle

A 2.5-star movie review of “Stalingrad,” Fyodor Bondarchuk’s 3D account of the crucial battle of Stalingrad.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 2.5 stars

‘Stalingrad,’ with Mariya Smolnikova, Thomas Kretschmann. Directed by Fyodor Bondarchuk, from a screenplay by Sergey Snezhkin and Ilya Tilkin. 131 minutes. Rated R for language, brief nudity, war violence. In Russian and German, with English subtitles. Several theaters.

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >


Several movies have been made about the crucial 1942 World War II battle of Stalingrad, including the international coproduction “Enemy at the Gates” (2001) and the German “Stalingrad” (1993).

This is the first 3D IMAX version, though the most striking visual effect is the English subtitles, which leap out at you and never lose their immediacy. The rest of the movie is less effective.

Although the narration-heavy script insists that Stalingrad was the “bloodiest battle in human history,” it neither justifies this claim nor demonstrates how or why the Russians won.

At times it seems to be suggesting that the Nazis were busy fighting lice, dreaming of invading India and incinerating Jews rather than defending themselves; at others it’s hinting that both sides were too caught up in twisted love affairs. One sequence begins with an apparently sarcastic chapter heading, “Hitler the Liberator,” then fails to follow up.

“Stalingrad” was directed by Fyodor Bondarchuk, whose father, Sergey Bondarchuk, directed the Oscar-winning 1960s version of “War and Peace.” His hand tends to feel heavy, especially when he’s celebrating young love in wartime (shades of — ugh — “Pearl Harbor”), but the actors sometimes work wonders.

Thomas Kretschmann, the German piano lover in Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist,” is as charismatic as ever as a conflicted German officer. But perhaps only Bondarchuk can explain a bizarre prologue that compares a man-made battle to a volcanic force of nature.

John Hartl:

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Time to add another piece to your Hawks collection

Time to add another piece to your Hawks collection

Check out the full lineup of championship merchandise from The Seattle Times store.


Partner Video


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►