131 Min. | Drama – History – Romance | March 2001
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Staring: Jude Law, Ed Harris, Joseph Fiennes
Enemy at the Gates Review: In “Enemy at the Gates,” the future of the greatest battle of World War II, would be decided between a young Russian sniper and an aristocratic sharpshooter from Germany sent to kill him. Jude Law and Ed Harris sit for hours waiting for the right moment. It was a duel set in the siege of Stalingrad, Stalingrad was one of the biggest and bloodiest battles of World War II, and in the midst of this huge battle, these two soldiers were hunting each other down. Enemy at the Gates, opens with the harrowing transport of thousand of Russian soldiers across the Volga River to Stalingrad. The recruits were packed onto steamers, barges, whatever they could find to ferry them across the river. All that under a deluge of shells, bombs and explosions.
In Enemy at the Gates, by the time Vassili arrives to Stalingrad, the Nazis have a distinct edge, and Soviet morale is at an all-time low. Leading the Russians in their seemingly futile defense is Nikita Kruschev, played by Bob Hoskins. The Germans, at that time, were overrunning the place and the Russians were in an appalling state. It was the most awful battle of the war. Joseph Fiennes plays Danilov, an idealistic Russian officer who passionately speaks about his belief in getting the troops to turn the grave situation in Stalingrad around. He finds the perfect inspiration in Vassili. Rachel Weisz plays a young woman who volunteers to help in the war effort. She’s literally protecting the people she grew up with. When she meets Vassili, he just has a natural intelligence, a natural instinct.
In Enemy at the Gates, the casting of Ed Harris opposite Jude Law resulted in a striking visual link between their characters. They both have these unbelievably penetrating blue eyes. And director Jean-Jacques Annaud began to see the duel through their eyes. And one of the first shots of Ed Harris was a close-up of his blue eyes. Annaud painted the tensions very clearly and concentrated purely on the eyes of the Jude Law and Harris and, of course, on their rifles and how they were hidden and what they were doing. Basically, the core of his camera is the duel of their eyes, duel of men, duel of snipers, therefore a confrontation of people that scan the surrounding buildings, and try to decipher what they see. Overall, Enemy at the Gates is an excellent film.