Thursday, August 13, 2009

Enemy at the Gates: Unwelcome to Stalingrad

Here’s what I wrote on Twitter: Crack shot Jude Law leads the Russian welcoming committee sent to greet the Nazis in Stalingrad during WWII. 8.5 (out of 10) “Enemy at the Gates” is the story of Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law), a Russian sniper who played a key role in defending Stalingrad against the invading Nazis during World War II. In the beginning of the movie, it looks as though the Russians don’t have much of a chance. Their troops are headed for an almost certain death against the better armed and better trained Germans. And if the situation weren’t bad enough, the officers warn that if the men retreat, they will be shot. And many of them are. The pivotal scene occurs shortly after the first battle. As the dust clears and Zaitsev is hiding amongst the dead bodies, he’s handed a rifle by political officer Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) and proceeds to pick off five German officers with five perfect shots. Before you know it, Zaitsev is the poster child for the Russian forces and everyone is reading about his continued exploits – including the Germans, who send in Major König (Ed Harris), their top marksman to take out Zaitsev. Once König arrives the tension ratchets up considerably as the game of cat and mouse begins between König and Zaitsev, each man setting traps for the other and lying in wait. It’s just a matter of time before one of them slips up and the other draws blood. There’s also a love triangle between Danilov, Zaitzev and a female soldier (Rachel Weisz) in there. But it’s a minor distraction to the main event between the two shooters. Because in the end it’s not about Zaitsev getting the girl, it’s about him getting the Major.

"Enemy at the Gates"

Released: 2001

Rating: R

Length: 131 minutes

Cast: Jude Law, Ed Harris, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Genre(s): Drama, Adaptation, Adventure

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