'Battle Of Leningrad' [Blu-ray]
(Andrey Mironov-Udalov, Maria Melnikova, Anastasiya Melnikova, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2019 / Cape Light - MPI Home Video)
Overview: September 1941. On the Eastern Front of World War II, Kostya and his fellow Russian cadets are tasked with evacuating thousands of civilians out of war-torn Leningrad, to safety aboard Barge 752.
While Kostya’s commander initially worries that the barge may be too outdated to safely sail across Lake Ladoga, the evacuation is completed, even allowing Kostya time to smuggle his fiancé, Nastya, aboard the barge to join him on the journey.
But catastrophe quickly finds them.
Blu-ray Verdict: Simply put, 'Battle Of Leningrad' is a love story embedded with pockets of bravery and pride in the fight for Mother Russia.
Containing some inventive "twists" and some highly impressive use of CGI and cinematic visual, the film showcases just how engrained into Russian society the "political police" were.
It also showcases the quite barbaric kill policies that ran rampant throughout the Russian military forces during Second World War that resulted in a lot of unnecessary deaths of both soldiers and civilians alike.
Throughout, the cinematography and the actual setup of the barge scene and the overland battle scenes are excellent and, so I'm told, reliably portrayed.
The scenes when the evacuees are on the aforementioned barge and the German fighters start attacking it is one of the most intense I've seen in a long time and highlights the nightmarish event to a tee.
Historical accuracy, as always with these types of movies involving Russia, always show one side of the story though, but this one (originally entitled 'Saving Leningrad') is one that actually tries to mediate a happy, and one assumes truthful balance.
As for the main characters, Nastya (Maria Melnikova) isn’t a heavily sympathetic one and the fact that she refuses to listen to her fiancée Kostya (Andrey Mironov-Udalov) ultimately means we feel no real sympathy for her as the film unfolds.
In truth, the most sympathetic character is Nastya’s broken-hearted mother (Anastasiya Melnikova) who tries to remain stone-faced after her daughter runs off with Kostya.
With her husband having been accused of being a spy, her mere standing within her household, her community, her world is one now rooted firmly on thin ice as she continues on with her daily duties.
With its dialogue in Russian, the action is, one way or another, non-stop and in fact never takes its foot of the pedal until very close to the end of the film.
Russia is renowned for producing low level propaganda movies and spent lots of money on them, and so in my humble opinion, 'Battle Of Leningrad' is a nicely done film complete with top notch filmmaking skills. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
'Battle Of Leningrad' [Blu-ray] arrives December 3rd, 2019 via Cape light / MPI Home Video.