Blockade is currently running the film festival circuit, and it is unclear how much distribution it is going to get. It has been doing well though, with showing at two of the top Czech film festivals (this is the only film market I am really following, since I live in the country. I get American film news by osmosis).

If you do happen to see that this film is showing anywhere, I suggest going to see it. The film is not really a film in the usual sense. It is a collection of amateur film images taken during the blockade of Stalingrad during World War II. If any of you don't know your World War II history I suggest checking wikipedia's entry on the battle of Stalingrad. Suffice it to be said here, that the film is about one of the most bloody battles in human history, where over the course of 6 months nearly 2 million people died.

I have a certain facination with the idea of war and our ability for understand the actual experience of being sent knowingly to your death for something resembling a cause (At one point during the battle the average life expectancy for a Russian soldier was a day). Film can never depict 'what war is.' As Bazin says, “War, with its harvest of dead bodies, its immense destructiveness, its countless migrations, its concentration camps, and its atomic bombs, leaves far behind the creative art that aims at reconstituting it.”

If film wants to depict war, it has to instead show a concept deriving from the idea of war, and one that is filmable. Thus the innumberable war films that we see every day, are either about the glory of fighting for your country, or the tragedy of dying for your country (often both, depending on your political persuasion). Neither of these 'ideas' really give any credence to the fact that war inevitably involves dying, they have to cleverly avoid the subject because dying is something that is impossible to understand, and the horrors of war leave far behind the creative art that aims at reconstituting it.

Certain films, and I usually classify these films as brilliant (see Apocalypse Now, and After Life), manage to get past this impossible challenge, and play directly with the idea of life and death, the wonder of one, and the horror of the other. I generally go into a war film hoping that this is the issue at hand, not "honor" "glory" or even "tragedy." War is about death and horror, nothing more, and its films should be about the same.

I was not disappointed by Blockade, though I did get something that I did not expect. I expected to go into a film that showed the experience of people surrounded by death. What the film shows you is people surrounded by life. This hour long film is made up of a collection of images of people walking the streets, going to the grocery store, talking to each other. Though people were dying everywhere, what you saw was people trying their best to live, you saw that life has to go on despite the murders all around us.

The last shot was of people being hung, those were the only dead bodies you see in the entire film.

The film is one of the best expressions I've seen of the need to live.

I have not been able to find any place to buy the DVD, if anyone finds one, please contact me.

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