Enemy at the Gates

March 16th, 2001








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Enemy at the Gates

Still of Jude Law in Enemy at the GatesEnemy at the GatesStill of Ed Harris in Enemy at the GatesStill of Rachel Weisz in Enemy at the GatesStill of Joseph Fiennes in Enemy at the GatesStill of Ed Harris in Enemy at the Gates

Plot
Two Russian and German snipers play a game of cat-and-mouse during the Battle of Stalingrad.

Release Year: 2001

Rating: 7.5/10 (87,055 voted)

Critic's Score: 53/100

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Stars: Jude Law, Ed Harris, Joseph Fiennes

Storyline
During the WWII battle of Stalingrad, two snipers, a Russian, and a German, are locked in a battle of wills and marksmanship, while the Russian is boosted to the status of hero by a political official.

Writers: Jean-Jacques Annaud, Alain Godard

Cast:
Jude Law - Vassili Zaitsev
Ed Harris - Major König
Rachel Weisz - Tania Chernova
Joseph Fiennes - Commisar Danilov
Bob Hoskins - Nikita Khrushchev
Ron Perlman - Koulikov
Eva Mattes - Mother Filipov
Gabriel Thomson - Sacha Filipov (as Gabriel Marshall-Thomson)
Matthias Habich - General Paulus
Sophie Rois - Ludmilla
Ivan Shvedoff - Volodya
Mario Bandi - Anton
Hans Martin Stier - Red Army General
Clemens Schick - German NCO (as Clemans Schick)
Mikhail N. Matveev - Grandfather (as Mikhail Matveev)

Taglines: A single bullet can change history.



Details

Official Website: Enemy at the Gates Official Site |

Release Date: 16 March 2001

Filming Locations: Babelsberg, Potsdam, Brandenburg, Germany

Box Office Details

Budget: $70,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $13,810,266 (USA) (18 March 2001) (1509 Screens)

Gross: $96,971,293 (Worldwide) (December 2001)



Technical Specs

Runtime:



Did You Know?

Trivia:
The duel between Zaitsev and Konig is partially based on records made by Zaitsev. The rifle scope taken from the killed German sniper is now at the Central Army Museum in Moscow, Russia. German who was shot in the duel was SS sniper Colonel Heinz Thorvald. The Germans claimed someone named Koenig had been shot in the duel and not Thorvald because they didn't want to admit their ace was down. This was claimed by Zaitsev, who also found the papers on the body identifying him as Thorvald.

Goofs:
Revealing mistakes: When the camera focuses on Zaitsev after he first speaks to Danilov ("You'll get us caught, Comrade Commissar."), the "corpse" next to him blinks.

Quotes:
[first lines]
Grandfather: [whispering to boy aiming rifle] I am a stone. I do not move. Very slowly, I put snow in my mouth. Then he won't see my breath. I take my time. I let him come closer. I have only one bullet. I aim at his eye. Very gently, my finger presses on the trigger. I do not tremble. I have no fear. I'm a big boy now. Ready Vassili? Now, Vassili, fire!



User Review

Easily the best thing that has come out all year...

Rating: 10/10

It would be all too easy to dismiss Enemy At The Gates as being an attempt to cash in on Saving Private Ryan's success, but in my opinion, it is a very worthy competitor. In fact, it is a better film. I say that primarily because I am sick to death of Americans using World War II as a basis for films that generally amount to little more than propaganda. Of course, Enemy At The Gates comes off as being somewhat fantastic due to its attempt to balance entertainment with historical fact, and it came as a surprise to me to learn that Sergeant Vassili Zaitsev was a real person (whose sniper rifle is still an exhibit in a Russian museum), but this makes it all the more entertaining to watch.

A lot of historians have it that the battle of Stalingrad was the most unpleasant one fought during the second World War, and this film's set design and cinematography capture that impeccably. When the Russians are battling the Nazis, you get the idea that if the Nazis didn't kill them, malnutrition, tetanus, scurvy, bubonic plague, or a million other things would. Jude Law and Joseph Fiennes lend authenticity to their roles that makes it even easier to follow them on their personal journey through hell, and Ed Harris is scarily convincing as a high-ranking Nazi. The real surprise here, however, is Rachel Weisz as Sergeant Tania Chernova, and the very heart and soul of the film. When she describes the reasons why she decided to take up a gun and battle the Germans, it all makes so much sense that you just want to buy the poor girl a beer and give her a good warm embrace. Not that such things would erase the scars that her character bears, but one would feel obligated to try.

Writer/Director Jean-Jacques Annaud, writer Alain Goddard, and cinematographer Robert Fraisse treat the subject matter with great care towards authenticity and entertainment value. It's very tricky to get these two things in proper sync, but they more than manage here. They also don't rely on any hokey photographic effects to tell the story, simply letting you see everything as clearly as possible, letting your imagination do the rest. Anyone who's read anything credible about the inhuman suffering the Russian soldiers endured during this battle will have no trouble filling in the gaps that the narrative leaves about their living conditions. The blood and gore shown during the battles is also very conducive to the atmosphere. Rather than just expecting you to believe that a solider gets his stomach spread all over half a kilometer of pavement by enemy bullets, they show you so you can get a feel for how bloodthirsty both sides in the confrontation were. Even the sex scene doesn't look out of place here.

To make a long story short, this is the first film I've seen in a long, long time that I haven't been able to come up with a list of criticisms for. It is simply excellent, and the 7.1 rating it is currently stuck with does not do it justice. It is easily superior to the likes of Platoon, the equal of more esoteric war films such as Three Kings, and it is miles above the likes of Saving Private Ryan and Pearl Harbour. Vassili Zaitsev would be very happy that his struggle has inspired such a commendable piece of art - it is exactly the sort of thing he and millions of others like him (on both sides of the planet) were fighting for.




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