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The German side of the story

If Enemy at the Gates with its ensemble of star power succeeded somewhat in projecting the desperation of the Red Army during the historically true battle of Stalingrad, a decisive turning point of World War 2, that stalled the advance of the Wehrmacht and shattered its image of invincibility, the German produced Stalingrad, unveils the German side of the story with a wartime realism so vicious, it jolts, shocks and unfailingly begets respect for the life of the common World War II German soldier, prior to undermined as a cold hearted villain by a series of B-grade war films that unabashedly misconstrued history and preyed on sentiments for block office gains, barring aside a handful of exceptions.

Fought between the Axis allies comprising of the German 6th army and five Russian armies, the battle of Stalingrad was a brutal collision of two juggernauts and the colossal ego of two men – that of Hitler and Stalin. The 6th army successful in the early stages of the war had eventually found itself surrounded by its opponents.

Exhausted in supplies, limbs cold and numb in the harsh Russian winter, and with no hope of reinforcements the trapped soldiers had fought for their very survival – as many believed the Russians would have executed any prisoner. Ultimately several had perished and not just because of the hard fighting. Military records indicate staggering losses on both sides with Germany and its allies making up 8,50,000 casualties of a combined total of approximately 2 million.

Directed by German film director Joseph Vilsmaier and released in 1993, Stalingrad is an epic war film that can easily find its place among the all time greats for recreating in brutally honest fashion the chaos that engulfed the besieged army warring in a hostile land.

Starring a cast of European actors, the movie balances violent battle scenes with human emotions displayed by soldiers through the ages as they witness events enfold around them up close, with one of its most memorable battle scene being a small group of German infantrymen in foxholes taking on a Soviet tank in a freezing Russian landscape. The film was originally released in the Russian and German language and won three awards in the Bavarian Film Awards. English audience will need to find a version that comes with English subtitles.