The longest siege during World War II was that of Leningrad, which lasted for 900 days, from September 1941 to January 1944, when Hitler attempted to starve the Soviet city of three million people into submission. Estimates of the number of residents who died from starvation, disease or cold range from 641,000 to 800,000.
Comprised solely of rarely-seen footage found in Soviet film archives by director Sergei Losnitsa, BLOCKADE vividly re-creates those momentous events, featuring a meticulously reconstructed, state-of-the-art soundtrack added to the original black-and-white silent footage. The result gives viewers the eerie impression of being not just an observer but virtually a participant in the events as they unfold on the streets of Leningrad.
BLOCKADE is organized episodically, beginning with defensive measures, including artillery emplacements, anti-tank fortifications, trenches, and observation balloons; the devastating effect of artillery shelling and aerial bombing of the city; the marching of captured German soldiers through the streets, surrounded by taunting Soviet crowds; the corpses lying on street corners or dragged on sleds to mortuaries for eventual burial in mass graves; citizens desperately foraging for food, water and firewood; the joyous celebrations upon the breaking of the siege and the disturbing aftermath.
BLOCKADE is a dramatically compelling demonstration of the power of archival footage, here synergized by an evocative soundtrack, to bring history to life.
"A starkly unsanitized and riveting montage of the nearly 900-day blockade... a powerful portrayal... ideal for college classroom use."—Richard Bidlack, Slavic Review
2007 Full Frame Documentary Festival
2007 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Conference
2007 Chicago International Documentary Festival
2006 Vancouver International Film Festival
2006 Golden Dragon for Best Film, Krakow Film Festival
2006 Grand Prize, KONTAKT Film Festival
2006 Rotterdam International Film Festival
2006 Visions du Réel
2005 White Elephant Prize for Best Documentary, Russian Film Critics Association
2005 Nika Russian National Award for Best Documentary
"Different and imaginative... One of the most important Russian movies of the last decade... THE BLOCKADE is an important film that belongs in every university library."—Denise Youngblood, The Russian Review
"Recommended! Very well done... A valuable contribution to those studying the impact of war."—Educational Media Reviews Online
"Absorbing... poignant viewing!"—Variety
"An often gruesome but prosaically candid mosaic of life during the siege...a useful and revealing effort."—Slavic Military Studies Journal
"Stark...harrowing...These pieced-together black-and-white sequences chronicle the deterioration of an austere, stately city into a snowbound graveyard of scarred buildings and numbed survivors."—The New York Times
"Fascinating and disturbing... a big-screen treasure for war and history buffs."—Film Journal International
"The sheer magnitude of the largely unknown images alone makes this a worthwhile documentary for anyone interested in the Siege of Leningrad or World War II, but it is the poignancy of certain images that gives this documentary its particular value."—Military History
"Riveting... a technical marvel... in making BLOCKADE, Loznitsa cut, edited, and added a soundtrack to archival footage to open history to new interpretive possibilities and deeper comprehension." -Tony Osborne, Film & History