Film Review: Battle for Moscow aka Panfilov's 28

Flicking through Amazon Prime last night looking for something to watch, I came across the film Battle for Moscow aka Panfilov's 28. Worth a look, I thought, so clicked to spend my £4.99 and settled down to see what was what.

Well it's a cracking bit of military movie making. Here's the summary:

USSR, Late November, 1941. Based on the account by reporter Vasiliy Koroteev that appeared in the Red Army's newspaper, Krasnaya Zvezda, shortly after the battle, this is the story of Panifilov's Twenty-Eight, a group of twenty-eight soldiers of the Red Army's 316th Rifle Division, under the command of General Ivan Panfilov, that stopped the advance on Moscow of a column of fifty-four Nazi tanks of the 11th Panzer Division for several days. Though armed only with standard issue Mosin-Nagant infantry rifles and DP and PM-M1910 machine guns, all useless against tanks, and with wholly inadequate RPG-40 anti-tank grenades and PTRD-41 anti-tank rifles, they fought tirelessly and defiantly, with uncommon bravery and unwavering dedication, to protect Moscow and their Motherland.

The film begins with some infantry in a small village, gathered around some tables in the snow being taught how to disable German tanks. There's lots of chat about duty and the Motherland, a bit of banter as we start to identify the different soldiers, and a general sense of teeth being gritted as they prepare for battle. 

There's some interesting uniforms on display, as this is a Kasakh regiment (loving the huge and bright purple collar flashes!) and, as they start to dig in, a sense that they have a tough time ahead of them. There's some more banter about Thermopylae and the Seven Samurai, and then we're straight into the trenches to await the Nazi attack.

Not a still from the film, but a group shot of the main actors

The Germans get a pre-game stonk, and then come forward with tanks and infantry...but this first assault is beaten back fairly easily as the Soviets are under hidden Blinds and inflict double Shock when firing from ambush.

There's then a bit of a pause for more chat, and then we're on to the climactic battle as the Germans first pound the Russian trenches with off-table artillery, and then come forward again with an overwhelming number of tanks and infantry committed to the assault. I won't tell you what happens, but think Rourke's Drift!

It's stirring stuff, and the German tanks (Panzer IIIs and IVCs) look amazing , especially the shots from inside the tanks. The Russians have 45mm anti-tank guns, anti-tank rifles, and anti-tank grenades...and, presumably, balls of steel!

The cinematography is excellent, the sound very good (no mumbling actors here) and, as above, the special effects are cracking too. 

For those worried about the gore factor, it's not shot in the modern grossly graphic style (the first episode of the new season of Preacher was ten times worse!) but more akin to movies such as The Longest Day or Battle of the Bulge.

In all, it's a really good, old-fashioned war movie.

Highly recommended.

Here come the Germans!

Here come the Germans!