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MUST-SEE: 6 blockbuster films about the Battle of Stalingrad

75 years after the epic clash that changed the course of World War II, here are the five greatest movies about Stalingrad




(RBTH) – November marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet counter-offensive at Stalingrad. The Red Army’s victory over the Nazis in this bloodiest of battles is considered to be a turning point in World War II. RB looks at how Stalingrad has been portrayed in cinema, and there are at least six great movies about this historic battle that are worth seeing.

1. Nights and Days (1944)

This is the first Soviet movie about Stalingrad. Shot in 1944, the film is based on a play by iconic Soviet writer Konstantin Simonov and tells the story of Stalingrad’s defense from August to November 1942, which was the period of the most ferocious fighting. The movie shows that the “real heroes who stood their ground in Stalingrad were officers and soldiers of the Red Army,” not the Communist Party and its leaders.

One of the film’s main roles was performed by a young actor, Yury Lubimov, who later became director of Moscow’s legendary Taganka Theater.

2. The Turning Point (1945)

“A critical depiction of the struggles of war, it is a harrowing portrayal of the lives of soldiers away from home, fighting in ruthless conditions on the cold Russian front, unsure of how the encounters will benefit either side. The panoramic views of the landscapes and the dark, melancholy sequences of the dialogues, which are Ermler’s signature, are wonderfully executed and almost complete the expressions and performances of the actors,” said a contemporary reviewer, describing the 1945 Soviet movie directed by Fridrikh Ermler.

The film’s creators confessed later that the idea to make the film appeared immediately after the Soviet victory at Stalingrad, which at that time looked like a miracle. The movie won a Grand Prix at the first Cannes Film Festival in September 1946.

3. Stalingrad: Dogs, do you want to live forever? (1959)

The title refers to the words of Prussia’s King Friedrich the Great. “You cursed rascals, do you want to live forever?” Friedrich allegedly said to his soldiers when they were fleeing the battlefield in panic.

This was West Germany’s first movie on the topic, made at about the time when the last German POW had returned home from the Soviet Union. The movie centers on the lives of Wehrmacht soldiers and their allies from Romania before and after their surrender at Stalingrad, upon which they were taken prisoner. The movie’s director used authentic archival footage in the film.

4. They Fought for Their Country (1976)

This film by Oscar-winning Soviet director Sergei Bondarchuk stands out among movies devoted to Stalingrad. Based on the eponymous novel by Mikhail Sholokhov, who won the Nobel Prize in literature, the film tells the story of a platoon that resists the German offensive at Stalingrad in the summer of 1942. The famous Soviet writer and actor, Vasiliy Shukshyn, played his last role in this movie, and overall the film starred many leading Soviet actors of the time, including Bondarchuk himself. The cinema magazine, Soviet Screen, called it the best movie of 1976.

5. Enemy at the Gates (2001)

This movie is probably the most famous in the West about the Battle of Stalingrad. Made by French director Jean-Jacques Annaud, the film’s central conflict is a personal duel between two snipers played by Jude Law and Ed Harris. While the film was met with a mixed reception in Russia, it was praised for its scale and exquisite visuals. However, it was criticized for many historical blunders and clichés. “The budget of $85 million does not bring shallow characters to life, nor make the boring love affair touching, nor the awful dialogues natural,” said one reviewer. Another critic called the movie “unbearably kitschy” for a film that “pretends to portray…the greatest battle in the history of warfare.”

In another review the idea of the film was expressed this way: “Soviet soldiers are whipped to go to fight in a manner that cattle are driven to the slaughterhouse, and they are shot dead when they retreat by their own punitive units. They are dirty and miserable unlike the well-groomed and well-equipped Germans.”

6. Stalingrad (2013)

One of the latest Russian attempts to depict the battle was an ambitious project with a large budget by local standards – $30 million. Directed by Feodor Bondarchuk, the son of the creator of They Fought for Their Country, it was a box office success that grossed more than $68 million.

Despite being a financial success, the movie stirred controversy, and the Culture Ministry was asked to ban the movie because it “made Nazism look heroic and twisted historical facts.” A petition to forbid the film was signed by 34,000 people.

The ministry never publicly responded to that plea. What might have provoked such a reaction from some viewers? It could have been the portrayal of German soldiers; one review noted that they were shown as “humans,” with capacities to feel and love.

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch



The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.





Via RT…

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.



Via Zerohedge

In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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