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Enemy at the Gates (2001)

A Russian and a German sniper play a game of cat-and-mouse during the Battle of Stalingrad.
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4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Eva Mattes ...
Sacha Filipov (as Gabriel Marshall-Thomson)
Mario Bandi ...
Hans Martin Stier ...
German NCO (as Clemans Schick)
Mikhail Matveev ...


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 Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A hero never chooses his destiny. His destiny chooses him. See more »


Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong graphic war violence and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

16 March 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Enemigo al acecho  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$68,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£1,033,164 (UK) (16 March 2001)


$51,396,781 (USA) (6 July 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was poorly received at Berlin festival. The German-Russian writer Wladimir Kaminer who played an extra in the film, criticizes how the Russian soldiers are portrayed in the film. See more »


In the scene where Vassili shoots the five soldiers, right after Danilov says "Don't shoot, don't shoot, he's looking right at us." You can see a foot moving amongst the dead bodies. The foot moving has a light brown sole, and Vassili's is much darker so it cannot be his foot. See more »


[first lines]
Grandfather: [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!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The end credits are slanted and curved See more »


Referenced in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault - Spearhead (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Powerful Tribute To A Brave People: One Wolf At A Time
11 August 2016 | by (Quis Ut Deus?) – See all my reviews

Spoilers Ahead:

Let's get the objections out of the way: it is just like real war: dark, ugly, gory, brutal and cruel. I hope I can show you why it is one of my favorite war movies. The opening image is the essence of Vassili, his failure to shoot the wolf to protect his grandfather's horse. If you grasp this metaphor, which is his character, this is why his constant self-doubt and worry consume him. The characterizations are just like real people not the typical Hollywood heroes and villains. SPOILER: Danilov kills Konig not Vassili, the movie shows you that he had not a prayer against icy Konig who was a sniper instructor. Danilov realizes he will never get Tania who loves Vasseli, Danilov stands for certain death and defeats Konig by spotting him for Vassili. This is why it is such an accurate tribute to the brave Russian people who worked together against the Nazi's superior equipment. The director, bravely, resists the temptation to paint Vassili as a superhero. By the end of the movie, Law conveys his character's desperation that Khruschev is growing impatient: what is taking so long? Stalin is tired of waiting: shoot him already! They work together just as the Russian people did in real life. Their collective bravery turned back the Nazi juggernaut; the turning point will always belong to their brave ancestors.

Be warned, it is not idealized, it is filled with gory violence and hideous imagery, the worst being the quisling little boy whom Konig hangs from a lamppost as a warning. The Russians are not glamorized, Stalin's policy of shooting all troops who dared to retreat is on full display on the boat and in the city. Hoskin's Khrushchev steals the movie as one nasty piece of work, when one commander fails to stop the running away, Hoskins storms into his office. He proffers a handgun,"Perhaps you would like to cut through the red tape?" As he leaves the office, we hear the gunshot. The officers are all shaking and cowering before this legendarily ruthless man. Only Danilov has the guts to put forward Vassili as a positive example. The movie follows the duel between the Nazi's Major Konig, played like walking Ice by Harris, and Vassili. Konig's ruthlessness extends to his own kind, using one of his own corpses to try and ambush Vassili in the factory. I also loved the truth of the movie, Vassili warns Tania that the faces of his victims stay with him forever. After Tania relays the horror visited upon her family, he wordlessly hands her a sniper's rifle in reply. The only levity is Perlman's character who had the misfortune to be in Moscow training when Germany violated their alliance with Moscow and turned upon their former ally. Perlman recounts the comedy of returning under the worst of circumstances: an accused spy now.

I understand the objections, many of them obtain, it is an ugly, depressing and bloody movie. Yet, it is a great tribute to the brave Russian people who turned back the Nazi hordes; if they had not stood so bravely, and taken so many deaths, who knows how the war would have turned out? These characters are complex, Vassili ultimately fails and is saved by Danilov who gives his life for his country. Little gestures of sacrifice fill the movie, dying men throwing their rifles to the next man, the biggest weakness is the slow ending. It features horrifically realistic imagery, not for children in the slightest. Even Konig, though a monster, is kind to the little boy right up until he hangs him for trying to set him up for Vassili. It is my favorite war movie for its realism and its ugly honesty about war. It is just like this: chaos, betrayal, nobility, depravity and bravery. Vassili is rendered as a deeply flawed, self-doubting human being who hates being drawn as a hero. One fateful display of his shooting skill, in front of Danilov, seals his fate. He is forever that little boy in the snow who failed his grandfather. This is a real hero, not a Hollywood cartoon; his nobility comes from his never giving up.

A dark, ugly but noble tribute to a brave people who stood and died for the rest of the world. They have all gone to their rewards by now but we still remember them. Sometimes, one wolf at a time is the difference between victory and defeat. A Great Tribute To A Great People. Q.E.D.

"You Are Never Beaten Until You Admit It." General George S. Patton

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