A Navy navigator is shot down over enemy territory and is ruthlessly pursued by a secret police enforcer and the opposing troops. Meanwhile his commanding officer goes against orders in an attempt to rescue him.
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
Major Konig, played by Ed Harris,can be seen wearing gloves with the index finger and thumb on its right hand removed. This was quite common for snipers in cold conditions as it helped prevent frostbite in the hand, while allowing them to make delicate changes to their weapon and ensuring a smooth trigger squeeze. See more »
When Commisar Davilov is showing Vassili the first leaflet with his story printed on it, he grabs a page fresh off the printing press, where you can clearly see there are only four helmet graphics shown with X's over them. In the close up shot of the same leaflet, there are now five helmets with X's, to signify the five Germans that Vassili killed. It appears as if the first prop leaflets designed only showed four kills. 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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I really loved this film. It is one of the best movies about war - what it is like, and what causes it. I know some people find the love story hard to take, but it is there to illustrate how jealousy and envy can lead to irrational acts, hate, and even war.
At a time when the world is racing toward armed conflict yet again, this film is a timely reminder of the ultimate futility of war. The opening sequence is one of the most horrific I have ever seen - comparable to that incredible opening scene in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. But unlike "Ryan", this film does not become a flag-waving one-sided analysis of war. Instead we get an in depth, and very moving, look at the reality of being human in a war situation - whether male or female, German or Russian. And Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz and Ed Harris all give superb performances. I was a bit hard-pressed, though, to believe Bob Hoskins as Krushchev.
Jean-Jacques Annaud is a remarkable director, with a strong visual style, and deserves to be recognised as one of the contemporary masters of cinema. Ten out of Ten.
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