Rare gem among the communist films
What is so great about this movie is its near matter-of-fact portray of the reality of the war, namely, the bloody defeats and suffering of the partisan army. This honest portray of what really happened in the past history is often taken for granted in movies made in west, but it is extremely rare in the eastern blocks, including the former-Yugoslavia, that is until this movie was made.
The movie was based on the historical facts of German attack on the Yugoslavian Communist bases, including inflicting great casualties on the partisan army, and in addition, the logistic parts of the partisan army, such as the central hospital, and heavy equipment, such as artillery and vehicles, were completely lost. However, German failed their original objective of eliminating the partisan army once for all in one decisive blow, despite the fact wiping out every partisan base and inflicting significant casualties on partisans:
Tito narrowly escaped the German spear head of the assault, and successfully planned and lead the remaining forces to break out, opening new fronts in Bosnia after escaping, and eventually establishing a new base there. For this reason, this battle was considered a victory by partisans because they escaped the total annihilation, and with the tiny surviving force, they eventually recovered and fight to their final victory.
This movie is an relatively accurate portrait of the extremely difficult breaking out attempts and the eventual success of the partisan army, a technical defeat but a strategic victory. In comparison to other war flicks made in communist countries, such as that of former-USSR, Romania, Vietnam, and North Korea, this movie presented the facts that most communist regime would rather not want to talk about: the heavy casualties of communist army and its cause: the inabilities of the commanders to make the best decision at the right moment at the place.
In the war flicks made in the other communist countries listed above, the heroes never dies, and their commanders never makes mistakes, and the enemy was always stupid and incapable. This movie honestly admits that the enemy is not only better equipped, but is equally capable if not better Tito's commanders. The German war fighting capabilities were given proper credit.
In this sense, this movie is the Yugoslavian equivalent of The Longest Day, made in USA, in which Germans were treated as they were -- human beings and professional soldiers who did their job despite the failure of their high command. Although there are still obvious one-sided scenes due to obvious political reasons, such as the world is bleeding when a partisan was killed, the movie is far better than any others made in the communist countries and for its honest description of the history, it deserves a perfect ten.