The first shot was to be the camera making a zoom out from a room in Stalingrad through the window, we can see the building, in ruins, then as long as the camera is still doing a zoom out we can see the city and the river next to it and then the camera stops and you can see (as in the beginning of star wars episode IV) the german airplanes stuka reaching the city.
All of this with Shostacovich "Stalingrad" Symphony in the background.
This movie was extremely important in Leone's Vision.
Leone analyses "american dream" in his spaghetti westerns and in OUTA and he concludes that the american dream doesn't exist no more and that in even when it existed, in order to achieve it you had to give away all your child dreams and become a violent and evil man in a violent and evil system.
With "900 days" he wanted to explore the other "broken dream", the sovietic one, telling a love story in a terrible war background.
Leone was not communist. If you don(t believe just watch the Juan/Rod Steiger speach about revolution in DYS. Leone was more an anarchist to me. It is clear to me that he wouldn't show an optimist vision of the Soviet Union and the communist system, but a dark one.
Jean Jacques Annaud took Leone's project (he told it himself) and transformed it simply into......http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0215750/trivia