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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 set.

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 war.

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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