FF107 - Stalingrad

Intro by Adam Pranica

If it feels like there are a lot of films about Stalingrad, you are not wrong. A quick search in your movie streaming service of choice, or if you are so lucky a brick and mortar video store, will reveal 10 of them, although only one to our knowledge has a scene depicting a Rachele Weisz hand-job (Enemy at the Gates).

It is enough film content to spin off a podcast of its own and I have already pitched Airwolf a show about German Russian World War II films with an emphasis on fighter plane aerodynamics / equestrian cavalry enclosures hosted by 5th year college seniors from acting school with limb fractures, called: The Stalingrad Stallstallstallingrad Castcastcast. For comparison, there are only five more films made about Pearl Harbor, and that is if you don't disqualify the Michael Bay movie, which we do.

This Stalingrad film is the most successful Russian film of all time, earning $51 million domestically in Russia and $68 million globally, and while the Friendly Fire project examines how a country views itself by how it tells its war story, we are also very interested in what other countries consume for entertainment. Stalingrad accomplishes both! But does that say anything about the importance of this battle in the story of World War II and the historical record?

Well, in our experience watching war films, sometimes quantity doesn't equal quality, and this is a film that tries very hard to project quality. Shot on state-of-the-art equipment, much of it in 3D, the film has a glossiness to it that could attract as many filmgoers as it could conceivably repulse, and its director Fedor Bondarchuk is cut from that same cloth as Michael Bay: polished music video director turned film director.

This film also does that thing that Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor does, which is construct a love story within a war story, and just like a stuffed box office doesn't translate into critical success, foreign language films rarely penetrate the American Zeitgeist.

It has a lot of strikes against it, but will this film's aim be true for the assembled hosts of Friendly Fire? You know what they say: ”There is no life beyond the Volga!” on today's Friendly Fire as we discuss the 2013 Fedor Bondarchuk film Stalingrad.

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