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Enemy at the Gates

864 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

Like Saving Private Ryan, Enemy at the Gates opens with a pivotal event of World War II--the German invasion of Stalingrad--re-created in epic scale, as ill-trained Russian soldiers face German attack or punitive execution if they flee from the enemy's advance. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud captures this madness with urgent authenticity, creating a massive context for a more intimate battle waged amid the city's ruins. Embellished from its basis in fact, the story shifts to an intense cat-and-mouse game between a Russian shepherd raised to iconic fame and a German marksman whose skill is unmatched in its lethal precision. Vassily Zaitzev (Jude Law) has been sniping Nazis one bullet at a time, while the German Major Konig (Ed Harris) has been assigned to kill Vassily and spare Hitler from further embarrassment.

There's love in war as Vassily connects with a woman soldier (Rachel Weisz), but she is also loved by Danilov (Joseph Fiennes), the Soviet officer who promotes his friend Vassily as Russia's much-needed hero. This romantic rivalry lends marginal interest to the central plot, but it's not enough to make this a classic war film. Instead it's a taut, well-made suspense thriller isolated within an epic battle, and although Annaud and cowriter Alain Godard (drawing from William Craig's book and David L. Robbins's novel The War of the Rats) fail to connect the parallel plots with any lasting impact, the production is never less than impressive. Highly conventional but handled with intelligence and superior craftsmanship, this is warfare as strategic entertainment, without compromising warfare as a manmade hell on Earth. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • - Making Of
  • - Deleted Footage
  • - Interviews

Product Details

  • Actors: Jude Law, Ed Harris, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins
  • Directors: Jean-Jacques Annaud
  • Writers: Jean-Jacques Annaud, Alain Godard
  • Producers: Jean-Jacques Annaud, Alain Godard, Alisa Tager, John D. Schofield, Jörg Reichl
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: August 14, 2001
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (864 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CXRA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,219 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Enemy at the Gates" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

123 of 145 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 22, 2001
After many major Hollywood epics about the war on the Western Front (THE LONGEST DAY, PATTON, A BRIDGE TOO FAR, BATTLE OF THE BULGE, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), it is long overdue that ENEMY AT THE GATES, centered on the pivotal battle for Stalingrad, should play to audiences ... particularly American audiences.
The core of the plot is the personal duel between two expert snipers, the Red Army's Vasily Zaitsev (Jude Law) and the German Wehrmacht major, Koenig (Ed Harris), the latter brought into the Stalingrad cauldron to kill the former before he totally destroys the morale of the German troops trying to capture the city. It's a cat and mouse confrontation depicted with startling realism, though, in this case, the mouse is just as deadly as the cat. The rest of the film is just window dressing, especially the sappy love triangle between Zaitsev, political commissar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes), and a female Red Army sniper, Tania, played by Rachel Weisz.
The film, set among the rubble and destroyed factories of Stalin's city, is visually stunning. The performances of Law, Harris and Fiennes are excellent, as is that by Bob Hoskins, who plays Joe Stalin's political representative on the scene, Nikita Krushchev. My complaints center on the accents of the main characters, which don't sound Russian by any stretch of the imagination, the previously-mentioned and totally superfluous love story, and the fact that the Krushchev is given way too much screen time at the expense of the Russian general, Chuikov, who doesn't even appear, even though he was the Red Army's military commander whose gritty defense of the city ultimately prevailed.
This story of the duel between Zaitsev and his German nemesis is based in fact, though a better telling of the tale is the work of book fiction, WAR OF THE RATS, by David Robbins. If you're interested in this footnote to the Stalingrad struggle, the book is a "must", and the film will serve as excellent visual reinforcement.
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144 of 174 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan D. Eckel on August 19, 2001
Format: DVD
It is so gratifying to finally see a major motion picture made about the WWII Russian Front. After all, it was the Red Army that inflicted 80% of Germany's total casualties in the war, a fact that many Americans remain sadly ignorant of. It is high time we get past Cold War attitudes and pay tribute to the heroism of the Soviet Union in its bitter but ultimately triumphant struggle against Nazism. _Enemy at the Gates_ is a movie of epic proportions, featuring good overall performances by a solid cast as well as a spectacular cinematic recreation of the bombed-out city of Stalingrad.
Still, the movie tends to drag at times, and could have been much better. The love triangle subplot was more of a distraction than anything else, taking up time that could have been better used to tell more of the awesome story of the battle of Stalingrad as a whole. Rather than simply having the German commander state, "These snipers are demoralizing my people," it would have been nice to have actually "seen" a little bit more of how the actions of Zaitsev and the Soviet snipers wore down the vaunted German infantry. Regrettably, the duel between Zaitsev and Koenig seemed to be taking place in a separate reality than the war itself, almost giving the impression that both sides had an unwritten agreement to let the two rivals shoot it out without interference. Also, the abrupt ending gave no explanation as to how the Red Army, seemingly on the ropes throughout the movie, suddenly emerged victorious.
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful By The Siege on August 16, 2001
Format: DVD
I have studied the Eastern Front for many years, and finally there is a movie I can see about it.
The opening scenes, especially on the young Red Army soldiers cross the Volga river into the battlefield, were both realistic and visually stunning; which painted a gruesome and grandiose picture of all the books I have read regarding the battle of Stalingrad. Another strength about the movie is that it showed the tremendous sacrifice and suffering of Russian soldiers who fought on despite tremendous casualty from German fire and NKVD (Soviet State Security forces) executions.
I think this film has brilliantly captured the fact that however much the Soviet press in WWII played up the propaganda about personal heroism during the war, the authorities had a total lack of respect for individual lives. According to Antony Beevor's book on Stalingrad, Chuikov, the commander of the Red Army in Stalingrad that disappointingly did not show up in this film, was quoted as saying "Every man must become one of the stones defending Stalingrad." Perhaps the real horror of the battle of Stalingrad was that Russian soldiers were used as discardable weapons in order to defeat the enemy, which utimately saved the world from Nazi domination.
The cinematography of the duel between two snipers (Ed Harris and Jude Law) was very good, but I believe too much time was spent on this theme. I did not care for the love story that kind of got stuffed into the movie perhaps to soften up the hard edges of battle. As a war movie, "Eenmy at the Gates" have some obvious weak spots. However, overall I am just very happy to see a well-produced movie on one of the most decisive battles of the Eastern Front, and hope that more films will be made regarding this subject in the future.
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