Filmmaker Fedor Bondarchuk’s sprawling, ultra-violent, carefully plotted, masterfully constructed Russian epic on the pivotal World War II battle of Stalingrad wisely focuses on one key corner of the panoramic conflict: a wrecked apartment house near the Volga River where a group of Russian troops and a war orphan named Katya (Mariya Smolnikova) try to hold out against a German onslaught. The acting is at a high level, with Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist) as a German captain, Yanina Studilina as the prostitute he protects, Pyotr Fyodorov as a Russian officer, and Dmitriy Lysenkov, Aleksey Barabash, and Andrey Smolyakov as worn-out Russian defenders. Bondarchuk, son of the late director Sergey Bondarchuk (Quiet Flows the Don, Waterloo), continues his father’s predilection for war films with great style. Production values are excellent throughout. Original screenplay by Sergey Snezhkin and Ilya Tilkin. Presented in IMAX 3D (135 min.).
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