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In World War II, the fall of Stalingrad will mean the collapse of the whole country. The Germans and Russians are fighting over every block, leaving only ruins behind. The Russian sniper Vassili Zaitsev stalks the Germans, taking them out one by one, thus hurting the morale of the German troops. The political officer Danilov leads him on, publishing his efforts to give his countrymen some hope. But Vassili eventually start to feel that he can not live up to the expectations on him. He and Danilov fall in love with the same girl, Tanya, a female soldier. From Germany comes the master sniper König to put an end to the extraordinary skilled Russian sniper. Written by
Most of the characters in the film are based on real people. Nikita Khrushchev was indeed a political commissar in the Red Army who popularized and promoted sniper Zaitsev. See more »
In the film, the troop train arrives near the Volga, so that the emerging soldiers can see the river and Stalingrad. At that time the rail line ended miles from the east bank of the Volga and they would have either marched, or ridden in carts or trucks to the city. (Cf. Walter S. Dunn Jr. Stalin's keys to victory. Stackpole Books, 2006.) See more »
[whispering to boy aiming rifle]
I am a stone. I do not move. Very slowly, I put snow in my mouth. Then he won't see my breath. I take my time. I let him come closer. I have only one bullet. I aim at his eye. Very gently, my finger presses on the trigger. I do not tremble. I have no fear. I'm a big boy now. Ready Vassili? Now, Vassili, fire!
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An extrordinary work of raw skill and imagination.
A gut-wrenching and impressive hide-and-seek thriller that uses the bloody battle of Stalingrad (during the second World War) as the clever disguise here for a real battle of courage and determination. The film follows a young and highly talented Russian sniper from the Urals, Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law - "eXistenZ", "The Talented Mr. Ripley"), who gains national fame from the help of Danilov (Joesph Fiennes - "Shakespeare in Love"), a propoganda officer and his true love and fellow sniper, Tania (Rachael Weisz), who is also flirting with Danilov.
However, the Germans have an ace sniper of their own in Erwin Koning (Ed Harris - "Pollock"), a seasoned and out-spoken Major who comes to Stalingrad only to pick off Vassili. And before Koning leaves, his superior officer asks how he'll find Vassili. Koning says, " I'll fix it so he finds me."
The love triangle that director Jean-Jacques Annaud and co-writer Alain Godard put in the story shows that the pair took a chance and I'll give them credit for doing it. Plus, the love scene that Law and Weisz have is one of the strangest (no offense to either one) that I've seen.
The film's best moments come when Vassili tries to catch Koning off guard, but the problem is Koning is aware of what Vassili is capable of. I won't say how it's done, but the final confrontation is a genuine nail-bitter.
All of the performances here are powerhouse and that includes Bob Hoskins as Nikita Kruschev, a snarling and impatient man and Ron Perlman, who portrays Koulikov, a lieutenant whose teeth are all metal and serves as a guide for Vassili.
Robert Frassie ("Ronin") handles the movie's photography with care and the appearrence of Stalingrad itself reminded me heavily of the war-torn cities shown in Spielsburg's "Saving Private Ryan" and Kubrick's "Full Metal Jacket". Also, James Horner conducts a tender and extremely mournful score that leaves a quiet yet important reminder of how awful war is.
"ENEMY AT THE GATES" is an extrodinary work of raw skill and imagination.
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