- Enemy at the Gates
name = Enemy at the Gates
caption = "Enemy at the Gates" film poster
Jean-Jacques Annaud John D. Schofield
Jean-Jacques Annaud Alain Godard
Jude Law Ed Harris Rachel Weisz Joseph Fiennes Bob Hoskins
Noëlle Boisson Humphrey Dixon
March 16, 2001
runtime = 131 min.
USA, Germany, UK, Ireland
language = English, German, Russian
budget = $68,000,000
amg_id = 1:237768
imdb_id = 0215750
"Enemy at the Gates" is a 2001
war filmdirected by Jean-Jacques Annaud, starring Jude Lawand Ed Harrisset during the Battle of Stalingradin World War II.
The film's title is taken from William Craig's 1973 nonfiction book "", which describes the events surrounding the
Battle of Stalingradfrom 1942- 1943. [ [http://www.epilog.de/Film/Dr_Dz/Texte/Duell_Enemy_at_the_Gates_USA_D_2001_Interview.htm Interview] with Jean-Jacques Annaudin German, referenced by Constantin Film] . It is based on a duel mentioned in the book that developed between Soviet sniperVasily Grigoryevich Zaytsev and his German rival, Major Erwin König, as they stalk each other during the battle. The movie is also partially based on the book " War of the Rats". The film was released under the title " Stalingrad" in continental Europe, although " Enemy at the Gates" is printed in smaller lettering underneath the main title on the box of the DVD release.
Stalingrad, 1942. The German invasion of Russia has reached the city of Stalingrad, reducing the city to rubble as the Soviet and Nazi armies battle for the fate of the World. Vassili Zaitsev ( Jude Law), a poorly educated peasant from the Uralsconscripted into the Red Army, manages to survive both a suicidal charge without a weapon into the front lines of the German attack and the NKVDmachine gunners shooting survivors who tried to flee. Acquiring a rifle, Zaitsev — an expert marksman — manages to kill four German officers (and the driver of their car, a general duties soldier) in a row with the only five bullets he has, impressing a witnessing political commissar, Danilov ( Joseph Fiennes). Writing an account of Zaitsev's achievement in the military newspaper, Danilov manages to inspire the broken, morale-sapped people of the Soviet Union to renew their efforts against the German invaders, and Zaitsev becomes a national hero and propaganda icon.
The bond between the two men is to be tested, as both have fallen in love with Tania (
Rachel Weisz), a citizen of the city who has volunteered in the local militia. Fearing the Soviet snipers and the demoralizing effect they are having on their own men, the Germans have sent for Major Erwin König( Ed Harris), the top sniperin the German army, to seek out and eliminate Zaitsev.
The story focuses on the exploits of
Vassili Zaitsev( Jude Law), a Ural peasant who was taught how to hunt and shoot by his grandfather, now fighting on the Eastern Front of World War II. A Red Armysoldier, he is traveling in a train's cattle truck along with other soldiers and civilians, where he notices a young woman ( Rachel Weisz) before the train is converted into a military convoy headed for Stalingrad, a city that is now under attack by the German Army. Upon arriving on the city's outskirts, the soldiers attempt to cross the Volgaon unprotected river barges, bombarded by German dive bombers and artillery, resulting in many casualties. When the survivors disembark on the other side, only half of them are given Mosin-Nagantrifles, while the rest - among them Vassili - are given only a five round clip of ammunition. As their fellows are shot down, the men with the clips are to use the dead men's rifles. In a hopeless charge against the well-armed Germans, the Red Army soldiers are massacred both by the enemy, and by the Soviet commissars who shoot anyone who retreats.
After the battle, a car races through the streets, under artillery fire. Knocked off the road, the driver - Lieutenant Danilov (
Joseph Fiennes), a Soviet political commissarsecond class - flees to the safety of a drained fountain and feigns death amongst the corpses within. Here he comes upon Vassili, also feigning death, and watches with amazement as the young soldier kills five nearby German soldiers with five shots from the Mosin-Nagantrifle Danilov hands him. Later, Nikita Khrushchev( Bob Hoskins) arrives in Stalingrad to coordinate the city's defences. He demands suggestions to improve morale, and Danilov suggests publicizing "heroes" for the people to idolize. Vassili's exploits are soon national news, Danilov now a senior lieutenant and on the general staff tells Vassili that he is transferred from the regular forces to sniper division. As Zaitsev and his fellow snipers take their toll on the German forces, he and Danilov — the author of the articles — become firm friends. Vassily then learns that the girl he had seen on the train (Tania), is a private in the local militia. Danilov, smitten with the woman, arranges to have her transferred to an intelligence/intercept unit away from the battlefield, using her ability to speak German as the justification.
With Zaitsev's increasing fame, and the high casualties (especially officers) being inflicted by the Soviet snipers, Major
Erwin König( Ed Harris) is deployed to Stalingrad to help counter this new threat. A renowned marksman himself, and head of the German Army Sniper School, the aristocratic König immediately begins plotting how to best take out young Zaitsev.
The next day, Vassili, along with two other snipers, is tasked with killing a German sniper lurking in the Department Store sector. Zaitsev, now a sergeant, apparently dispatches the enemy with a single shot. When two of them go to retrieve the man's dog tags, they discover that it was only a decoy. The still-hidden König, having already killed their other team member without their knowledge, kills the other sniper with Zaitsev, during an air raid after she panics; Zaitsev manages to escape. When the Red Army command had learned that Major König was sent to specifically kill Vassili, a fellow sniper (and former student of König's before the war) named Koulikov (
Ron Perlman) is sent to assist Vassili in dispatching the Major, however, and in a failed plan to draw him out, Koulikov is killed, shaking Vassili's spirits considerably.
After a drinking conversation with Khrushchev, in which Danilov is pressured into seeing the sniper business finished, Danilov goes to see Tania, who, after Danilov makes an advance, realizes he is Jewish and tells him about her fathers wishes to live in Palestine. Since they are Jewish, he believed they have a duty to defend Palestine so, he taught her how to shoot. She then requests a favor from him, that he reassign her to sniper division.
Danilov recruits a double agent - a young boy named
Sacha Fillipov( Gabriel Marshall-Thomson), a patriotic youth who occasionally does small jobs for the Germans. Danilov then goes to tell Vassili, and as Vassili is telling Danilov that he does not believe he is good enough to take out König, Danilov assures him that next time he will be one step ahead of König, since Sacha is positioned to give König false information about Vassili's whereabouts, allowing Vassili opportunities to ambush him. Danilov then asks a favor of Vassili, that he convince Tania that sniper division is not a place for her.
Vassili then goes to Tania and attempts to convince her that sniping is more intimate then infantry fighting. Tania is not swayed and tells Vassili that she just recently read a dispatch that was a list of Jewish people the Germans had rounded up to ship from Stalingrad to Germany. Her parents were on the list, and were executed after they stopped the train over a bridge and bound couples and families together in pairs. To save ammo the Germans only shot one person from each pair, to drown the other. Vassili then hands Tania a rifle, Vassili tells her it is Koulikov's rifle, that it is a good rifle. She accepts and thanks him.
Running alongside the main plot is Vassili and Danilov's attraction to Tania, which causes underlying tension between the two men amidst the chaotic atmosphere, especially when Tania finally chooses Vassili as her lover. This personal conflict comes to a head when Tania is presumed to be dead after being struck down by shrapnel. As Vassili and Danilov hunt for König to avenge Sacha, Danilov laments his jealousy for Vassili and his disenchantment with the communist cause as a result. Danilov then exposes himself in a final act of friendship, allowing König to shoot him — revealing the Major's position. König goes to inspect the body, assuming it is Vassili, but is quickly shot by Vassili.Two months later, it is revealed that Stalingrad is liberated and Zaitsev finds Tania in a hospital, safely evacuated and recovering.
Jude Law- Vassili Zaitsev (based on Vasily Zaytsev)
Ed Harris- Erwin König (based on Heinz Thorvald)
Rachel Weisz- Tania Chernova
Joseph Fiennes- Danilov
Bob Hoskins- Nikita Khrushchev
Ron Perlman- Koulikov (based on Nikolay Kulikov)
Eva Mattes- Mother Fillipov
Gabriel Thomson- Sacha Fillipov (based on Sasha Fillipov)
Matthias Habich- Friedrich Paulus
Sophie Rois- Ludmilla
Ivan Shvedoff- Volodya
Mario Bandi- Anton
*The fighting in
Stalingradwas actually shot in Berlin, Germany, ironically enough.
Volgacrossing was filmed near Cottbus, Germany.
The film was criticized both in
Russiaand in the West for taking considerable liberties with the facts; in both its plot and in the depictions of its characters (notably Fiennes' character, Danilov, and the German sniper König), it varies widely from the historical record.Fact|date=February 2008
Virtually all of the actors in the movie have British accents despite the fact the characters they play are Russian and German.
Some Soviet Stalingrad veterans were so offended by inaccuracies in the movie and what they saw as the insulting way in which it portrays the Red Army, that on
7 May 2001, soon after it was shown in Russia, they addressed their grievances to the State Duma, demanding the film be banned, but this request was not granted.Fact|date=June 2008
Anthony Beevorsuggests in his book, "Stalingrad", that, while Zaitsev was definitely a real person, the story of his duel (dramatized in the film) with König is fictional. Although William Craig's book "Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad" includes a "sniper's duel" between Zaitsev and König, the sequence of events in the film is fictional.Fact|date=April 2007
The initial battle sequence in Stalingrad is recreated in the PC game
Call of Duty, where the character is handed five rounds of ammunition (without a rifle) and sent to charge towards the German forces, while being watched by Soviet machine gunners. Later, he has to snipe 5 German officers as part of the first Russian mission.
* [http://www.enemyatthegatesmovie.com/ "Enemy at the Gates" Official site]
* [http://www.scorereviews.com/reviews/review.aspx?id=283 "Enemy at the Gates"] score review by Andreas Lindahl
* [http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=15019 "Enemy at the Gates"] Reviewed by David R. Stone, History Department,
Kansas State University, published by H-War (June, 2002)
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