Stalingrad (1993)

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Released 17-Nov-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Featurette-Making Of-Director's Profile: The Making of Stalingrad
Theatrical Trailer-Original and Remastered Trailer
Teaser Trailer-Original and Remastered Teaser Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 132:17
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Joseph Vilsmaier
Studio
Distributor
Bavaria Film Int
Gryphon Entertainment
Starring Dominique Horwitz
Thomas Kretschmann
Jochen Nickel
Sebastian Rudolph
Dana Vávrová
Martin Benrath
Sylvester Groth
Karel Hermánek
Heinz Emigholz
Ferdinand Schuster
Oliver Broumis
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI $24.95 Music Enjott Schneider


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English Alternate Subtitles
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     In September 1942 young Lieutenant Hans von Witzland (Thomas Kretschmann) assumes command of a platoon recuperating in Italy after being withdrawn from the fighting in North Africa. They are a mixed bunch of veteran troops, including Sergeant “Rollo” Rohleder (Jochen Nickel), Corporal Fritz Reiser (Dominique Horwitz), GeGe (Sebastian Rudolph) and Otto (Sylvester Groth). Posted to Russia, they are immediately thrown into the savage battle to capture Stalingrad, a city on the Volga River. The close quarters house to house fighting is chaotic and brutal, but more brutal is the onset of the Russian winter which blankets the city in snow. When a Russian counter-offensive surrounds the city, the German soldiers caught within the cauldron face not only Russian attacks but the cold, starvation, disease, frostbite and despair. As men die and are killed, the survivors must question their humanity, make their own choices and try to stay alive.

     Stalingrad is a spectacular looking, confronting war film. The sets, including a devastated factory complex, are painstakingly detailed, the snow covered landscapes of winter dazzling in their intensity. It always looks authentic; the dirt, the blood, the mud, the rubble of urban Stalingrad, the desolate white wastes of the steppe. The colours of the film are dull and drab, giving a realistic, non-glossy look, the uniforms and equipment feel used and credible and there is a diverse array of vehicles, tanks, APCs and even a tri-motored JU-52, that give the film a higher level of authenticity than, say, the more recent Jean-Jaques Annaud directed Enemy at the Gates (2001). The battle sequences are chaotic, explosive and well-staged, often using hand-held cameras to good effect. As well, the film does not shy away from the aftermath of the fighting, showing bloody and horrific scenes of wounded men in makeshift hospitals, or the plight of the Russian civilians caught up in the fighting. This is not a film about the strategy of the conflict, but about young men in dingy, frigid shelters fighting for their lives against the enemy, the cold, disease, starvation, and their own officers. For most of the running time the film is compelling cinema, immediate, chaotic and beautiful, with recognisable, if clichéd, characters, and it is only towards the end with the introduction of the Russian female soldier (played by Dana Vavrova, the director’s wife) that the film seems to misstep.

     Stalingrad may not tell you much about the strategy of this pivotal WW2 battle, but it is a confronting war film about young men in battle, with excellent sets, chaotic and explosive action sequences and recognisable characters. An excellent, compelling and beautiful looking war film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Stalingrad is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. The cover states that the film is “restored & remastered” which certainly seems true if the differences between the original and remastered trailers (included as extras) are anything to go by.

     This is a good sharp print. Colours are deliberately muted and drab. There are no bright clothes, green grass or clear blue skies except in the Italian scenes; all is grey and overcast, with the added intensity of the snow covered landscapes. Skin tones are pale as well. Detail is good, blacks solid and shadow detail fine. There is evident film grain in many shots and some motion blur but I did not notice any marks or other artefacts.

     English subtitles are available in either a white or yellow font. Both are easy to read and contain no obvious spelling or grammatical errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of two German and two English tracks – each language is offered in a Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps or Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps. I listened to the German 5.1 and sampled the English 5.1, in which the dialogue (with German accents out of Hogan’s Heroes) sounded especially tinny.

     Dialogue was clear at all times while the explosions and effects were quite front oriented, with only ambient sounds in the surrounds. Nevertheless the gunfire and explosions were fine, perhaps explained by the fact that while the surrounds were not used extensively, the subwoofer certainly was! In fact, it was constantly in use giving bass support to the explosions, gunfire, fires, engines, and the music.

     Lip synchronisation seemed occasionally off.

     The original score by Norbert Schneider was suitably martial in tone for a lot of the film with brass dominating, although it also gave effective support to the visuals in less active moments.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Director’s Profile: The Making of Stalingrad (5:44)

     Film clips, behind the scenes footage and interview tid-bits (in German) with the director Joseph Vilsmaier, and actors Dana Vavrova, Jochen Nickel, Dominique Horwitz, Sebastian Rudolph and Thomas Kretschmann. English linking narration; some interesting behind the scenes footage, but not a lot else.

Trailers

     Original Theatrical Trailer (1:49), Remastered Trailer (1:52), Original Teaser Trailer (1:22) and Remastered Teaser Trailer (1:21).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There are a number of European Region 2 Special Edition versions of the film including German and Scandinavian DVDs with a wealth of special features including a three part 2003 German documentary on the battle. However, these have no English subtitles. The Region 1 US and Region 2 UK releases are non-16x9 and lack extras. For English speakers, our Region 4 release is the pick. Note: The excellent three part documentary included in the European DVDs has been released separately on DVD in Region 4 which I reviewed it on this site here.

Summary

     Stalingrad may not tell you much about the strategy of this pivotal WW2 battle, but it is a confronting war film about young men in battle, with excellent sets, chaotic and explosive action sequences and recognisable characters. An excellent war film; compelling viewing.

     The video and audio are fine. The extras are limited in comparison to European releases, which however do not have English subtitles.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, January 07, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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