PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS FILM IS ALSO AVAILABLE WITH A GERMAN SOUNDTRACK, LISTED UNDER SCHLACHT UM MOSKAU.
Yuriy Ozerov's monumental 1985 work about the Battle of Moscow is much less dramatic and more "historical" than his equally massive "Liberation", made more than a decade earlier. Somewhat freed from the censorship of earlier years, Ozerov was able to address a topic hitherto rarely covered in Soviet works: the opening phase of Operation Barbarossa from the German invasion on 22 June 1941 up to the climactic days of the Soviet counteroffensive before the gates of Moscow.
While still heavily influenced by the official version of events, the film unflinchingly covers the disastrous policies and inefficiencies, which allowed the Germans to rapidly advance and take the newly incorporated lands of Byelorussia and Ukraine into their hands, as well as large portions of western Russia and Ukrainian lands east of the "old border". Nevertheless, it is painfully skewed in its portrayal of Stalin and those around him: Stalin is benevolent; wise; heeds the advice of his cronies in the Supreme Soviet and allows his generals to make the final decisions when the chips are down. Apparently, Ozerov didn't get the message that the cult of Stalinism pretty much came to an end in 1956; and even though Brezhnev was a Stalinist, no one in the USSR at that time had any illusions about how Stalin treated those around him. Zhukov is likewise, but justifiably, praised for his accomplishments (something Stalin didn't take kindly to in the postwar period and promptly banished him to a secondary command in the boondocks to remove any competition for the laurels of victory). The rest of the generals in the film are either grudgingly acknowledged or treated as borderline traitors and incompetent morons (yet any mention of the Great Purge, which decimated the officer corps of many of its finest officers, is an outright non-event in the film).
Nevertheless, the film is entertaining, if not typically long for Ozerov's docudramas, and is the first of its kind to portray and explain how the disasters of the early days of the War almost resulted in a very different Europe.
DVD-Rs are in Russian with switchable English subtitles. Approx. 336 mins. (more than 5 1/2 hours). See film sample for audio and video quality!