My father was in Stalingrad during the German siege. He remembered and spoke of Zaystev's importance ... he really had been the first of many held out as more than a hero but as a symbol of hope against the fascist invaders.
My father said that before Zaystev, deaths at the hands of Soviet nationals seemingly exceeded losses by Germans. Soviet nationals were willing to risk being shot by either side in the conflict taking a chance of being taken alive as a prisoner by German forces. But once news of Zaystev broke, the entire dynamic changed. Soviet troops fought harder and more willingly. Of course, this movie was Trumped up ... the confirmed kill count was true but the cat and mouse game of wits between snipers was a fake story.
Perhaps Vasily was a state hero, but it was Mikhail Kruschev who changed the paradigm from desperation to hope and turned the battle around. This movie's finer quality is that it promoted hope over self-destruction.