Stalingrad in the Suburbs of St. Petersburg
Most of the Stalingrad shooting took place near St. Petersburg. The
production team (supervised by production designer Sergey Ivanov) built the set,
which included bombed buildings, as well as areas of the town occupied by the
Nazi troops. Sergey Ivanov had already worked on the big historical drama Tsar,
directed by Pavel Lungin. Nonetheless, Stalingrad turned out to be a project on
a different level, because of the goals set by the director and the efforts made
to realize them.
The Stalingrad shooting location looked astonishing due to its size and the
preparations made. The crew had organized a real construction site, because it
was impossible to achieve the goals set by Bondarchuk with typical decorative
methods and techniques. A crew of 400 professionals erected and decorated the
The large-scale set, unprecedented for the Russian filmmaking industry, was
erected not far from St. Petersburg (Sapyorniy village, Leningrad Region).
Several blocks of Stalingrad included places that would be familiar to
audiences, including the famous "Children's Circle Dance" fountain (also known
as "Children and the Crocodile"). Following the photo taken by E.N. Yevzerikhin
after the air raid of August 23, 1942, the fountain became one of the best-known
symbols of the battle of Stalingrad. For the film, the famous fountain was
designed by Alexey Ivanov, and cast of foam, plastic and plaster.
The art department carefully preserved the proportions and style of
Stalingrad buildings of the time, but changed their location to create the town
for the film. All the original buildings (the department store, the theatre,
Pavlov's house which was the prototype of Gromov's house, and the Square of
Struggle, or "Ploschad Borby") had been situated in different parts of the real
Stalingrad. However, in the film, they were next to each other.
For instance, the building defended by the main Russian characters in the
film is actually a whole inhabited space filled with apartments, stairs and
corridors. Gromov's house was constructed out of foam-concrete blocks, a quite
soft, modern material that can be decorated to look exactly like brick. The
other buildings were built as metal frames coated with plywood and plaster.
Attention was paid to the tiniest details to make each apartment unique and
furnished to suggest the characters of the people who lived there before the
The art department also produced a model of the crashed plane and the facades
of the main buildings. It took a long time to make all the sketches, because the
designers tried to render the feeling of all the locations.
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