Battle of Russia (film #7 in the WWII section of Movieflix (www.movieflix.com). Also, tape #5 of the series WWII Special Edition (Madacy Entertainment, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]

This fifth and longest film of the "Why We Fight" series (it was made in two parts), documents the Russian resistance and victories against the Nazi invasion of their country. Russia was a powerful ally and had some of the earliest victories against the Nazis, so their story needed to be told. But unlike most of the other nations fighting the Nazis, the Soviet Union was definitely not a democracy, and most Americans already feared and hated Russian communism, so the filmmakers had a bit of a difficult sell. They did it by focusing on the military victories and the determination of the Russian people, and carefully sidestepping any political issues. Communism is not mentioned once, nor is the German-Russian Non-Aggression Pact (which Germany ended up breaking). And unlike the other films, little mention is made of the "free" world of "democracies" fighting off the "slave" world of Fascism. Nevertheless, this is probably the nicest, most positive American film made about Russia during its communist period that I've ever seen. How quickly that would change! The most interesting segment is the one about the siege of Leningrad, and again, the courage and determination of the people is impressive. Film buffs will want to watch for scenes from Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky in the opening scenes documenting Russian history.

Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.

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