Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  52 minutes
Date:  2006
Genre:  Poetic
Language:  Russian; No dialog
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Black and White
Closed captioning available
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This title is included in the following collections: The Icarus Films Collection
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Made entirely from footage discovered in Russian archives, and featuring a meticulously reconstructed soundtrack, this film vividly re-creates the 900 day siege of Leningrad during World War II.


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

'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 and History


** 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


Main credits

Telʹnov, Vi︠a︡cheslav (film producer)
Lozni︠t︡sa, Sergeĭ (film director)

Other credits

Camera, Nikolaĭ Blazhenov ... [et al.]; sound director, Vladimir Golobnit︠s︡kiĭ.

Distributor credits

A Film by Sergei Loznitsa

Docuseek2 subjects

Russia and the former Soviet Union
World War II
War and Peace
Human Rights
Experimental Film
European History

Distributor subjects

Black and White
Cinema Studies
Eastern Europe
History (World)
World War II


Sergei Loznitsa; World War II; WWII; Leningrad; siege; Hitler; artillery ; anti-tank ; fortifications; trenches; observation balloons; captured ; German ; Germany; Soldiers; Soviet ; POW; film; video; documentary; dvdorphan works; experimental film; sound design; "Blockade"; Icarus Films;

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