STALINGRAD - Dogs, do you want to live forever?
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I saw the latter film first and was deeply disappointed by it. It is an excruciatingly long and depressing antiwar screed choked with post-war self hatred and guilt, and the last hour is almost unwatchable. The producers obviously had a political agenda and carried it out at the expense of such minor things as the historical truth or watchability. I'd rather watch "Born on the Fourth of July" a half-dozen times than sit through "Stalingrad" again.
"Dogs" is a superior film in almost every way, and I would recommend it over the remake despite the outrageous price of $45 bucks (maybe you can get it used). It tells the story of an officer named Wisse who has just recovered from a slight wound and has been assigned as the liason to a Rumanian division north of Stalingrad. Wisse is tough, able, honest, humane and cool-headed under fire, and quickly earns the respect of both his Rumanian allies and his German subordinates. Unfortunately, his timing is bad: it's November, the the Red Army has just launched the offensive which will trap the German Sixth Army inside Stalingrad.
"Dogs" alternates the story of Wisse's struggles with his men's morale, the Russian winter, the Red Army, and his cowardly and devious superior, Col. Linkmann, with scenes from Hitler's headquarters explaining the Fuhrer's "rationale" (if you can call a completely irrational decision by that name) for refusing permission for the Sixth Army to break out. It also details the attempt by von Manstein to relieve the city.Read more ›
All the basic facts regarding what had happened at Stalingrad is here; the Romanian(Rumanian as they were called then) division's sucumb to tank fright, the city in ruins, desparate street fights(not so desparate here), the encircling of the German Sixth Army and the 4th Panzer Army's(under General Hoth) failure to reinforced it, the Luftwaffe's inability to resupply 'der Kessel' and their insignificant crates of worthless goods, the Russian winter, the German soldiers' near-starvation diet and their attempt at AWOL by clinging on to JU-52 transport planes, Hitler's indifference to the Sixth Army's doomed fate, General Paulus' unswerving loyalty to the Fuehrer's directives, Paulus' promotion to Field-Marshal hinting of suicide rather than surrender, and the Field-Marshal's last act of defiance to Hitler's orders.
The acting was apathetic as characteristic in most '50s classics. So stiff were the actors' performances, don't even expect to learn the psychology of the German soldier here. But the set design was near perfect, if not a bit under-budgeted. The costume and makeup looked too flush on the depraved Germans, otherwise accurate. The military equipments remained faithful, except for the T-34/85(sans the T-34/76s from newsreel footage) that was featured prominently during the battle scenes. It hasn't been developed yet at the time of Stalingrad. But at least they didn't throw in a surplus Sherman tank in disguise with red paint seared over its white star.
The DVD itself is a dissappointment.Read more ›
Frank Wisbar spent the 1930s in the States and most of WWII there too. When he caught up on the theme of WWII in Germany in the late 1950's he did so without the causcious guilt many of his politically tainted countrymen posessed.
Where "Enemy at the Gates" is an embarrassing performance tumpets and bravado, "Stalingrad" a show of German theatrical performance, "Hünde, wollt ihr ewig leben" almost comes down to the level of "I say chaps, Stalingrad is awfully chilly, hm?"...
However, as for sticking to historical facts it scores. It touches in on the German arrogance and prejudice even against her own allies. Anecdotes of how things aren't right are sometimes played down to subtile hints which is almost unusual in German films. Modern German directors, please take notes here...
The relatively low budgets on battle scenes in spite, this is a good movie with a even pace towards the end. If you like the old school war movies and would like to see a German view, this is worth the time. But keep in mind that Wisbar didn't make full use of his material - Read Beevor to catch up on events, and "As far as my feet will carry me"/"So weit die Füsse tragen" (Clemens Forell) about life/dispair in the Soviet POW camps after the war. I recommend the 08/15 series for a movie look at the Germans in WWII. Why on Gods green planet isn't it released on DVD to an English language audience?
PS: the German villain is well played by Wolgang Preiss. Oddly enough, as the battle of Stalingrad begun he enjoyed his fame in the role as a dashing nazi pilot hero in "Die Grosse Liebe" (1942).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent film. Surprisingly fair in its treatment of the subject, especially the Rumanians. Watching the film, you can see its influence on other, later movies. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jim Gabbert
As a military historian and U.S. Army veteran...former gunner on an M1A1 battle tank, I can be very critical when it comes to factual military movies. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Andrew Vickers
Very interesting movie. I found it intertaining and in some parts quite good. If you are into WWII this would be one you might consider adding to your collection. Read morePublished on March 23, 2013 by m ziemann
Excellent film albeit that it is in black and white only. It rounds out, and complements the other Stalingrad war movie which is better known. Read morePublished on November 24, 2012 by Reviewer
I managed to watch this film only recently, as it is very hard to find, at least at an accessible price - and I was very impressed! Made in 1959 it is still in black and white. Read morePublished on February 17, 2012 by Maciej
Considering the time period when this was made, 1950's and the subject was still a very raw nerve with the German population, this is an excellent recounting of the Battle that... Read morePublished on November 15, 2010 by Extraordinary Gent.
1950's German cinema, bereft of the cultural contributions which became the "New German Cinema" of the late 60's and 70's, is an interesting period in filmmaking. Read morePublished on April 4, 2007 by Jesse E. Lillefjeld
I have always been a fan of this movie and would recommend it to any student of Stalingrad. While the resolution of the DVD works well on a HDTV, I doubt if the DVD contains the... Read morePublished on June 3, 2006 by DrBig