In Tranzit


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Immediately after Germany's surrender in WW2, Russia had too many German POWs and neither enough facilities to house them, nor personnel to process them. The captured Germans were thus dispatched to whatever makeshift accommodations might be remotely suitable for the task. In the case presented in this film, 51 Germans were shipped to an empty Russian woman's prison which was staffed by an all-female skeleton crew. The assignment of those prisoners to that location was probably intentional, a scheme by a crafty KGB colonel to use the sexier female staffers to extract information from the prisoners in whatever manner might be effective. (Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.) The stakes were higher than first assumed by the women, because among the scruffy, rag-tag band of Germans were several high-ranking SS officers who would not be mere prisoners of war, but rather war criminals to be publicly hanged.

The colonel places his strongest hopes on the camp's doctor, a sexy redhead whose feminine charms are familiar to him personally, having been exchanged for a promise to allow her brain-damaged husband to stay in the camp rather than to be shipped to a sanitarium.

The situation is fictional, but is said to be inspired by an actual case. I don't know whether every single detail is historically accurate, but I did learn an important historical lesson from this film. Who could have guessed that being a prisoner of war in Russia was so sweet? Oh, sure, there were some rough patches at first, but by the end of the film, these prisoners were holding mixers with the local women, playing musical instruments, hanging out in the Romanov palaces,  wearing new clothing, and getting laid more than Hugh Hefner. What fools were those Germans who rushed to the western front at the last minute so they could surrender to the British and Americans. The eastern front was where it was at! Life in the Russian POW camps was like going to Club Med, except colder. Damn, I wish I could have been a prisoner of war in Russia! They had it so much better than webmasters and movie reviewers. 

That isn't the only element of the story that is less than convincing. When the prisoners are first transported to the camp, four or five women with rifles have absolutely no trouble maintaining control over 50 battle-hardened Germans. Soon, the doctor is examining each patient privately, with no armed guard to protect her. It's not just those sorts of details that seem unrealistic. There are also problems with the film's internal logic. The incredibly evil guy is eventually outed, but earlier in the film he says to another guy, in order to secure his conspiratorial silence, "Remember, Max, I know who you are and what you did." He says this when they are alone together, so it obviously means that Max really does have some awful secrets of his own. But when the Russians finally arrest Max, they end up letting him go back to the camp, and thence back to Germany. So are we to assume the Russians just gave people the benefit of the doubt? Hell, not only did the Russians not exercise such generosity with their enemies, they didn't even treat their allies and their own soldiers that well!

There are also several moments in the film that are not developed or supported by earlier events. For example, there is a point where the bad Nazi is just about to kill the good Nazi while the KGB officer is driving toward their location, too far away to prevent it. Suddenly, the sexy camp doctor (who fell in love with the good Nazi), comes out of nowhere and jumps the bad guy from behind. Besides the fact that it's hackneyed scripting and an obvious deus ex machina, there are two major problems with that: (1) She was farther away than the KGB guy, and she was on foot while he was driving. How did she get there before him? (2) She could have had no way to know where the two Nazis were in the first place. The KGB guy only knew because the doctor's crazy husband saw where they were heading and told KGB. That's only one example of many such gaps in logic. There were several times when I felt I must have missed a scene which explained how person "A" could possibly have been aware of circumstance "B" or gotten to point "C."

I suppose there may well be some scenes missing, given the shabby quality of the Russian DVD in general. It's not even in the correct aspect ratio. It is rendered in 1.8:1, but the trailer (see below) shows that the exact same framing should be stretched to 2.3:1. Even if the trailer were not available, it just should have been obvious to the men mastering the DVD that the faces and bodies were not in correct proportions. Sloppy work!

Those negatives are regrettable, because this film could have been a contender. On the plus side, the director of this film did a marvelous job in creating an appropriately bleak atmosphere. The camp is rickety and forbidding. The trains are old and noisy. The prisoners stay within one large hall, with no shelter against the cold except the four flimsy walls around them. The staff's quarters are not significantly better. The vehicles seem to be held together with bailing wire, the fences seem to be rotting, and everything is covered with layers of snow and ice. Audiences will probably be shivering sympathetically.

The idea is excellent. It's dripping with atmosphere. There's a solid international cast headed by Vera Farmiga (the doctor), John Malkovich (the KGB officer), and some European stars. The is location shooting in St. Petersburg. The film had lots of potential ...

but the team produced a mediocre result ...

It's a so-so movie that should have been great.

The DVD is currently available only in Russia.

The info is available here.


There are no reviews online.









6.4 IMDB summary (of 10)










No info available. No North American theatrical run has been scheduled.











  • Vera Farmiga showed her breasts and buns in a sex scene.
  • Nathalie Press showed her breasts in a scene where she was forced to strip outside in the snow.
  • The German (male) prisoners had to strip for a communal bath.




Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It is not without some positives, but how big is the market for a chick-flick about WW2 POWs?