Stalingrad [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Arrow Films
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (31st October 2014).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Till the last man.

In the spring of 1942 German troops advance deep into the Soviet Union, en route to Stalingrad. Hitler, seriously misjudging the tenacity of the Red Army, is convinced that the city can be conquered before winter. Inadequately clothed and without sufficient food, the Nazi troops literally freeze and starve to death, largely abandoned by their leaders. For the soldiers Fritz, Hans, Rollo and GeGe the struggle for life has just begun. Gunfire and bombs are only one part of this hell; most of the soldiers will lose the battle against hunger and cold.

The film presents this turning point in World War II as a vast tableau of horror in which the average German soldier was as much a victim of Nazi evil as the Soviet people.

Video

Independent British distributor Arrow Films have released the acclaimed German war movie "Stalingrad" on to Blu-ray in the United Kingdom using the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer is 1080p, and receives an AVC MPEG-4 encode. Overall, it looks pretty good.

The palette used here is a deep mix of colours associated with the military, especially greens and greys, as well as the snowy whites of the Russian environment. The dark colours of the opening hour can show a surprising amount of detail, with shadow particulars of distinct note. The bubbled clothing, the intricate stitching, and the muddy streets littered with injured soldiers all look very pleasing indeed, with hardly any crush to be seen. This palette suits the tone of the movie perfectly, and provides an intriguing level of depth at times. Although the movie is only twenty years old, the print here is very clean indeed. So clean in fact, that the natural grain of the 35mm shoot seems to be virtually non-existent. We could of course blame digital noise reduction, but close-up details don't appear to be waxy, and backgrounds don't look like dodgy watercolour paintings. It's a bit of strange one really. I noticed no issues with edge enhancement or jagged edges, and there's no obvious blemishes such as dirt or scratches. There was some very light banding in the skyline during one scene, but I barely noticed it.

The film is uncut and runs 137:37.

Audio

Arrow Films have supplied the disc with a single audio track; German LPCM 2.0 Stereo. Although this is a little disappointing considering the German and Scandinavian releases feature 5.1 audio (but are not English friendly), the track is still technically solid with no notable issues. As with most war movies, there's plenty of action on screen, with gun shots, explosions, and the sound of big clunky tanks all showing good levels of clarity, adding a bit of depth to the track. Dialogue is clear and audible at all times with no mumbling, whilst volume levels are consistent throughout. I didn't detect any scratches or drop outs, and there was no sign of background hiss. The track is restricted slightly by it's lack of surround action, but it's above average for a stereo track.

Optional subtitles have been included in English.

Extras

The main extra included on the disc is a very short "The Making of Stalingrad with Joseph Vilsmaier" featurette, clocking in at 5:40. In German with optional English subtitles, this gives us a quick insight behind the scenes, with a little bit of footage of set preparation that has been interjected with several interview snippets from various members of the cast and crew. It's interesting viewing, but not in-depth enough to be of any real value.

There's also a small selection of start-up trailers (6:13):
- "Generation War" (3:18)
- "Battle of the Pacific" (1:29)
- "Siege of Empires" (1:24)

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: B+ Audio: B Extras: D- Overall: B

 


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