This was Sergei Bondarchuck's debut feature which he not only directed but also acted the main part of Andrei Sokolov in the screen adaptation of Nobel Prize winning author Mikhail Sholokov's novel.
Beautifully crafted and acted, the film is a moving account of an ordinary Soviet citizen - Andrei Sokolov - during the desperate fight to protect the motherland from Nazi invasion during World War II.
Bondarchuk looks as old in the beginning as he does at the end.
The experiences in a German prison camp didn't reduce his girth and he looked as healthy and ageless at the end as he did at the beginning.
The distribution of the unfortunate men, women and children into various locations on their way to the gas chambers lacked conviction, while the introduction of the military band playing a western dance song while the the unfortunates walked to their doom was merely designed to allow Sokolov to smash the record of the music later on in the film.