Enemy At the Gates

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Good war movie despite its inaccuracies.

on 5/29/2012

Despite its historical flaws, Enemy at the Gates is an awesome war film. This film captures the essence of the sniper so greatly, at least in my opinion. The waiting, the patience, the careful aiming, the camouflage. All of it is depicted wonderfully. Much of this is due to the fact that the cast was taught by an actual sharpshooter. And the weaponry, wow. I could not believe how accurately the Gewehr sniper rifle was recreated. Everything down to the scope with its three separate lines instead of the intersecting two on most other sniper rifles.

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Product Overview

An all-star cast lights up the screen in this riveting epic hailed as "a vivid dramatization of one of history's titanic turning points." (Gene Shalit, Today)

The year is 1942 and the Nazis are cutting a deadly swath through Russia. Under the leadership of Kruschev (Bob Hoskins), the citizens of Stalingrad are mounting a brave resistance, spurred by the exploits of their local hero, Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law). An expert sniper, Vassili's deeds have become legendary -- thanks to propaganda produced by Vassili's best friend, a political officer named Danilov (Joseph Fiennes). To stop Vassili, the Germans dispatch their best sniper, Major Konig (Ed Harris), to Stalingrad. When Vassili and Danilov both fall in love with a beautiful soldier (Rachel Weisz), Danilov deserts his friend, leaving Vassili to face his German counterpart alone. As the city burns, Vassili and Konig begin a cunning game of cat and mouse, waging a private war for courage, honor and country.


Studio Paramount
SKU 210800188
UPC 097361429144
UPC 14 00097361429144
Format Blu-Ray DVD
Release Date 1/3/2012
Rating Rating
Aspect Ratio
Widescreen  2.35:1
ReviewSource ReelViews
Review Stalingrad, 1942-43. It was the bloodiest single battle in the known history of war, with more than one million perishing of wounds, disease, and the bitter cold of winter. Like Napoleon a century earlier, Hitler came to Stalingrad with the aim of breaking the spirit of Russia, and, also like the French little general, he was faced with catastrophic losses...Like Joseph Vilsmaier's powerful 1993 feature, Stalingrad, Enemy at the Gates elects to view this conflict from the point-of-view of a limited group of characters, rather than attempting to tackle the battle in an epic format. The film takes actual historical figures and imbues them with traits that allow their private struggle to mirror the overall conflict. However, as interesting as some of the ideas underlying the film are, and as technically adept as the production is, I had a hard time liking Enemy at the Gates. There's an emotional coolness to the picture and the characters are kept at a distance. There's also a lack of dramatic tension. The movie always moves in the direction of an inevitable conclusion, with minimal suspense along the way. As fascinated as I was by the historical backdrop against which the struggle occurs, I found it difficult to care one way or another about which characters lived or died...Director Jean-Jacques Annaud is not known for developing emotionally rich cinematic tapestries. His films often come across as visually stimulating but aloof (his previous outing, Seven Years in Tibet, is a perfect example). Enemy at the Gates falls prey to those characteristics. The movie squanders too many opportunities. For those who appreciate history and want to understand a little more about what went on during the battle of Stalingrad, I recommend Vilsmaier's movie. Enemy at the Gates hints at, but never achieves, greatness. Instead, for all of its impressive technical qualities, it ends up as a mediocre and mostly forgettable war film.
Reviewer James Berardinelli
ReviewRating 7
ReviewSource Chicago Sun-Times
Review "Enemy at the Gates" opens with a battle sequence that deserves comparison with "Saving Private Ryan," and then narrows its focus until it is about two men playing a cat-and-mouse game in the ruins of Stalingrad. The Nazi is sure he is the cat. The Russian fears he may be the mouse...The movie is inspired by true events, we're told, although I doubt real life involved a love triangle; the film might have been better and leaner if it had told the story of the two soldiers and left out the soppy stuff...This is a rare World War II movie that does not involve Americans. It takes place in the autumn of 1942, in Stalingrad, during Hitler's insane attack on the Soviet Union. At first it appeared the Germans would roll over the ragged Russian resistance, but eventually the stubbornness of the Soviets combined with the brutal weather and problems with supply lines to deliver Hitler a crushing defeat and, many believe, turn the tide of the war...Annaud ("Quest for Fire," "In the Name of the Rose," "Seven Years in Tibet") makes big-scale films where men test themselves against their ideas. Here he shows the Nazi sniper as a cool professional, almost without emotion, taking a cerebral approach to the challenge. The Russian is quite different; his confidence falters when he learns who he's up against, and he says, simply, "He's better than me." The strategy of the final confrontation between the two men has a kind of poetry to it, and I like the physical choices that Harris makes in the closing scene...Is the film also about a duel between two opposing ideologies, Marxism and Nazism? Danilov, the propagandist, paints it that way, but actually it is about two men placed in a situation where they have to try to use their intelligence and skills to kill each other. When Annaud focuses on that, the movie works with rare concentration. The additional plot stuff and the romance are kind of a shame.
Reviewer Roger Ebert
ReviewRating 8
No Longer Produced
Amy Longsdorf, Gannett Newspapers The most triumphant war movie since Saving Private Ryan.
Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com This is spectacle cinema made with individual flair; maybe someone in Hollywood will notice that it's still possible.
Ebert & Roeper and the Movies Two thumbs up!
Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune A physically gorgeous production with a strong, clear conflict at its center.
William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer ...[a] thrilling visual epic and a gruesome reminder that war is hell.

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Good war movie despite its inaccuracies. on May 29, 2012