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The Siege of Leningrad    cover photo

The Siege of Leningrad 2013


Distributed by First Run Features, 630 Ninth Avenue, Suite 1213, New York, NY 10036; 212-243-0600
Produced by Michael Kloft and Anna Reid
Directed by Michael Kloft
DVD, color, 88 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
World War II, Russia, Military

Date Entered: 12/17/2014

Reviewed by Michael Fein, Coordinator of Library Services, Central Virginia Community College, Lynchburg, VA

Taking a very sober and unromantic view of the suffering of the people of Leningrad during their 870-day siege by the Germans from 1941-1944, this remarkable production gives an excellent view of the Soviet experience. There are no German sources cited in the production, though German newsreel is used along with Soviet newsreels and modern film views to illustrate the narration. The narration by Steven Charles and talking heads: veterans and survivors of the siege, historian Ann Reid, and the curator of the Museum of the Defense of Leningrad are interspersed with archival footage and modern views of St. Petersburg to present the incredible story of the courage of the defenders, their immense suffering, and their eventual victory in January 1944 over the German army besieging the city. The emphasis of this production is on the time period of the first year of the siege and on the civilian suffering. This reviewer spent the summer of 1978 studying at Leningrad State University and many of the places shown are familiar as well as the then “party line” account of the defense of the city. This Soviet version of the siege was drilled into Western students and is mentioned in the production. Only with the fall of Soviet power has the complete story of the siege, to be more specific, cannibalism, been mentioned. It seems that cannibalism was much more wide-spread and the incidents of it mentioned in the production are somewhat disturbing. The stories told by those who lived through this are literally incredible. The volume level of the survivors speaking Russian is about the same as the overlaid English translation and makes both rather difficult to hear. Still, the picture and sound quality of this production are excellent. This production is highly recommended for all history collections.