For some reason, or no reason at all, back in high school our Spanish teacher made us watch this film. The cruel war was unleashed on the class over the course of about five classes and I can only feel our teacher was sick of us and just wanted to traumatise us with the strong images of war. I just remember finding the flame-throwers awesome, it’s all I remembered. How freaking cool are flame-throwers? Unless they are discharging into your face, then they are very hot. It’s been a while, but with a more sensible mind (my mental age is probably sixteen these days) I’m back in the thick of Stalingrad. A bit of a different experience than Call Of Duty suggests.
The historical film paints the German soldiers in a sympathetic light, forced into a battle of almost impossible odds and forced to do things inhumane outside of the battle. The sunny opening is quickly brushed away for lots of grey, white and more grey. it is an incredibly bleak looking film and what happens within the ruined and snowy landscapes is even drearier. Brutal deaths, which I still thought were pretty cool to watch on-screen, friendly fire, stupid mistakes, nasty superiors, crapping yourself and dealing with innocent lives are just some of the misery the squad we follow go through. There is no glorious hero here, just a bunch of unfortunate men quickly growing tired and dead. I grew attached to these Nazis and it does display the common problem of a foot soldier. Signing up because of someone they look up to, only to realise this isn’t what they want at all.
This time round I caught it in the original language, much better than the corny evil German accents of the dub, and I’m surprised how much came back to me. How could one forget the man who loses half his body to a tank? I still got lost on who was who though. The minute everyone puts on their hats I lose sight on the team I was starting to love. In the battles they just became another statistic. That’s war I guess.
Stalingrad is grim and quite an exhausting watch, but it displays the horror of war while straying from American heroes and all that Hollywood sparkle. Laid raw for all to witness, war is hell on Earth, an icy hell for these unfortunate troops.