How much do you know about the assault on Leningrad? Besides being one of the most lethal sieges of any city in all of history with over a million civilians dead, it was mostly about the love affair between a beautiful journalist and her romantic struggles in the company of freedom fighters in the city. Actually, it was a massacre, but a British woman being stranded in the doomed city wasn’t really of any historical significance. It’s not uncommon to focus on a single narrative within a much larger timeline, but does so while minimizing the importance of Leningrad’s most tragic moment. This was a time when innocent people were dying in the street of starvation (among other things), but that’s downplayed in the face of a well filmed but poorly written, shallow drama horribly acted and with audio that’s either ineptly synced or dubbed with some of the worst voice acting you’ve ever heard. In fact, the audio dubbing is so bad, Attack on Leningrad stops being a drama and instantly becomes an accidental comedy.
As the Nazi forces push further and further into Russia, the city of Leningrad becomes the holding line separating Russia from resistance and utter defeat. While soldiers die out on the front, the wealthy and foreign populace of Leningrad enjoy lavish parties, but that comes to an end, and soon all are evacuating from a city whose inhabitants will soon be surviving off a mere 300 grams of bread a day. The chaos of the evacuation sees British journalist Kate Davis (Mira Sorvino) left behind in Leningrad, and in order to survive she falls in with a small band of Russian soldiers led by Nina Tsvetkova (Olga Sutulova).
Rarely is a film ruined by its audio, but that’s the case with Attack on Leningrad. Should you choose to watch the film with just subtitles and the original Russian audio track, you’ll find the audio and the mouths don’t quite match up. If you want the audio dubbing, you’re in for one of the funniest dubbing experiences of your life. For one, the acting is awful, but that’s just icing on the cake that is the stunningly bad voice chosen for Adolf Hitler. It sounds as if someone did their worst Arnold Schwarzenegger impression and applied it to the Fuhrer. That choice and others can actually bring on belly laughs, it just sounds so ridiculous. It’s a shame too, since the cinematography is above par and the script could have worked if the director had given the actors better instruction.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
In spite of the bad audio, the film has merit and so the interview with Director Aleksander Buravsky and the production featurette hold a little bit of interest.
"Attack on Leningrad" is on sale October 18, 2011 and is not rated. Drama, Romance, War. Written and directed by Aleksandr Buravsky. Starring Gabriel Byrne, Mira Sorvino, Olga Sutulova.