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Enemy at the Gates (2001)

R  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  16 March 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 176,956 users   Metascore: 53/100
Reviews: 656 user | 182 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

A Russian sniper and a German sniper play a game of cat-and-mouse during the Battle of Stalingrad.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Eva Mattes ...
Sacha Filipov (as Gabriel Marshall-Thomson)
Matthias Habich ...
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 character of Ludmilla is a possible reference to another famous Soviet sniper, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who had over 300 kills, even more than that of Vassili Zaitsev, who had around 257 kills. See more »


The one ribbon that Major König wears on his ribbon bar is a non-combatant's version of a commemorative medal for WWI veterans. Not only is it unlikely that an ace WWII sniper would have been a non-combatant in WWI, König wears a combatant's WWI Iron Cross ribbon through the buttonhole of his tunic, directly contradicting the ribbon bar. 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 »


Featured in The 100 Greatest War Films (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

There's something missing here...
26 October 2003 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

"Enemy at the Gates" seems as if it can't make up its mind as to whether it is a brutal war epic or an affectionate character study. Both of these can work together and form a terrific movie, or they can seperate and become their own. This one's in-between. It held my interest in certain areas, but yet also left me a bit disgruntled by the way it manipulates its audience. And there's a silly love story thrown in for good measure. That does it.

Jude Law plays Vassili, a Russian sniper during World War II whose name may have been inspired by Vasoline gel as a funny in-joke. Vassili used to be a shepherd and learned how to aim a gun when he had to pick of wolves from a distance. There's a terrific opening sequence that reminded me of D-Day assault in Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan." But this battle goes on for too long and doesn't move like it should.

After the mini-assault in the beginning of the film, Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) is introduced as the political officer assigned to Vassili's unit. They take a liking to each other, but they both also take a liking to Vassili's neighbor, Tanya (Rachel Weisz). Tension builds between the two men as Ed Harris comes into this mess, playing Konig, a Bavarian man who is assigned to assassinate Vassili. He makes a remark that he will not find Vassili. He will let Vassili find him.

Here starts a quite amazing story that could have been tremendous given a better touch and a better editing job. The movie isn't too long by the standards of most war films, but it certainly seems longer than most war films, and when you start to wonder why the faults of the movie start to hit you like a bag of bricks.

There's an interesting and disturbing scene at one point when Russian soldiers are inside a demolished building. There's a big gaping crater at along the interior of the house, and the crater created a large hole in the wall overlooking the surroundings outside. Vassili does a leap of faith and makes it across unscathed. But the man who jumps next has his head blown apart mid-way across the crater. We then see Konig outside in a ditch, his sniper rifle smoking.

Scenes like this make the movie rise out of mediocrity for a moment or two before it slips, like the dead man who tried to leap across the hole, into a crater. Perhaps this is the main fault of "Enemy at the Gates"--it tries too hard. Or perhaps too little. I liked the idea of a cat-and-mouse game set in World War II. But it isn't put to good use. The scenes that should come off terrifying, potent and paranoid come off simply as boring. There's a scene in the movie when Vassili is trapped behind an object with Konig right outside, his sights set on the boundaries of this object. Vassili makes a run for it, he's dead. He stays around long enough, and he's dead. But the paranoia of the scene never builds. My mind started to wander. That should never happen in a film like this.

Jean-Jacques Annad ("Seven Years in Tibet") knows how to evoke surroundings, but his characters are wholly unbelievable on the whole, and every time he is given good potential for a tense scene he seems to nod in the director's chair. The love story is reeking of the typical Hollywood treatment. Whereas a film such as "Braveheart" uses its tender love story to a definite advantage in regards to the story, the love story in "Enemy at the Gates" does little but tarnish the film's remaining image. And that's too bad.

2.5/5 stars.

  • John Ulmer

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