Stalingrad Battle Recreated For Russian War Saga
U.S. Release Date: 2/28/14
Concerning a group of Russian fighters, who endure a hard slog to defend strategic building against an invading German army, the World War 11 pic, shot in IMAX 3D, grabbed up over $50 million at the Russian box office, and gave a battering to Iron Man 3. That feat marks the first time that a Russian pic, on its home turf, has kicked Hollywood’s butt.
This Friday, the film receives its first American release.
“Our story is about war, where only a few dozen meters separate the opposing parties, and where the enemies know each other by sight,” says director Fedor Bondarchuk. “Stalingrad in 1942 was a place where the average life span was about one day long, and people who managed to survive for a week were considered to be veterans. Therefore, we wanted to create the feeling of inevitable danger and threat.”
Bondarchuk has previously directed The 9th Company, a drama about the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and Heat, a low budget youth comedy. He says he never expected his next project to be a massive war movie.
‘Why make another statement about war?’ I asked myself. Then I found the answer: IMAX® 3D technologies today give us an opportunity to show a detailed, true-to-life world. I wanted to place the modern audience into a besieged, scorched city in November 1942, and to obliterate the border between the screen and the audience.”
The film, which unfolds in the Autumn of 1942, shows how Germany, convinced that its army will ensure victory, has marched into the heart of Stalingrad, Russia. Meanwhile, Russian forces, comprising of young and old, will give their last drop of blood to keep their land free from the Nazi plague.
After transforming a bombed out building into a command post, soldiers discover Katya (Mariya Smolnikova), who ultimately becomes a source of help and beacon of hope.
“The screenplay for Stalingrad is an original one, but we followed an old tradition and made a field trip to collect some documentary material,” says Bondarchuk. “We recorded a lot of interviews with the few surviving eyewitnesses. That might become a separate project later, because the stories they told are really, incredibly moving.”
Stalingrad required a massive set, which included a vast array of bombed out buildings, to be built near St. Petersburg. A crew of four hundred professionals erected and decorated the set.
“Modern technologies give us a better opportunity to render the entire scale of the battle and the personal drama,” says producer Alexander Rodnyansky. “The audience will have a great chance to feel its atmosphere, to participate in the action and to experience the full range of emotions, from tears to joy, as they empathise with the characters.”
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: Fedor Bondarchuk
Stars: Mariya Smolnikova, Yanina Studilina, Petr Fedorov, Thomas Kretschmann, Sergey Bondarchuk, Dmitry Lisenkov, Andrey Smolyakov, Aleksey Barabash and Oleg Volku
Screenwriters: Ilya Tilkin, Sergey Snezhkin (based on chapters from the novel by Vasiliy Grossman “Life and Fate”)
Producers: Alexander Rodnyansky, Anton Zlatopolskiy, Dmitry Rudovskiy, Sergey Melkumov
Executive Producers: Paul Heth, Michael Schlicht and Monumental Pictures
Executive Producer & Editor: Nataliya Gorina
Image Info: ©NON-STOP PRODUCTION
Sources: The Hollywood Reporter and Columbia Pictures