Enemy at the Gates
|Enemy at the Gates|
|Directed by||Jean-Jacques Annaud|
|Produced by||Jean-Jacques Annaud
John D. Schofield
|Written by||Jean-Jacques Annaud
|Based on||Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad
by William Craig
|Music by||James Horner|
|Edited by||Noëlle Boisson
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$97 million|
Enemy at the Gates is a 2001 war film written and directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The film's title is taken from William Craig's nonfiction book Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad (1973), which describes the events surrounding the Battle of Stalingrad in the winter of 1942/43. Although fictional, the film is loosely based on war stories told by Soviet sniper Vasili Zaitsev.
In 1942, following the invasion of the Soviet Union the year before, Vasili Zaitsev (Jude Law), a shepherd from the Ural Mountains who is now a soldier in the Red Army, finds himself on the front lines of the Battle of Stalingrad. Forced into a suicidal charge by barrier troops against the invading Germans, he uses impressive marksmanship skills—taught to him at a young age by his grandfather—to save himself and commissar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes).
Nikita Khrushchev (Bob Hoskins) arrives in Stalingrad to coordinate the city's defences and demands ideas to improve morale. Danilov, now a senior lieutenant, suggests that the people need figures to idolize and give them hope, and publishes tales of Vasily's exploits in the army's newspaper that paint him as a national hero and propaganda icon. Vasili is transferred to the sniper division, and he and Danilov become friends. They also both become romantically interested in Tania Chernova (Rachel Weisz), a citizen of Stalingrad who has become a private in the local militia. Danilov has her transferred to an intelligence unit away from the battlefield.
With the Soviet snipers taking an increasing toll on the German forces, German Major Erwin König (Ed Harris) is deployed to Stalingrad to take out Vasili and thus crush Soviet morale. A renowned marksman and head of the German Army sniper school at Zossen, he lures Vasili into a trap and kills two of his fellow snipers, but Vasili manages to escape. When the Red Army command learns of König's mission, they dispatch König's former student Koulikov (Ron Perlman) to help Vasili kill him. König, however, outmaneuvers Koulikov and kills him with a very skillful shot, shaking Vasili's spirits considerably. Khrushchev pressures Danilov to bring the sniper standoff to a conclusion.
Sasha, a young Soviet boy, volunteers to act as a double agent by passing König false information about Vasili's whereabouts, thus giving Vasili a chance to ambush the major. Vasili sets a trap for König and manages to wound him, but during a second attempt Vasili falls asleep after many sleepless hours and his sniper log is stolen by a looting German soldier. The German command takes the log as evidence of Vasili's death and plans to send König home, but König does not believe Vasili is dead. The commanding German general takes König's dog tags to prevent Russian propaganda from profiting if König is killed. König also gives the general a War Merit Cross that was posthumously awarded to König's son, who as a lieutenant in the 116th infantry division was killed in the early days of the Battle for Stalingrad. König tells Sasha where König will be next, suspecting that the boy will tell Vasili. Tania and Vasili have meanwhile fallen in love and have sex in the Russian barracks at night. The jealous Danilov disparages Vasili in a letter to his superiors.
König spots Tania and Vasili waiting for him at his next ambush spot, confirming his suspicions about Sasha. He then kills the boy and hangs his body off a pole to bait Vasili. Vasili vows to kill König, and sends Tania and Danilov to evacuate Sasha's mother (Eva Mattes) from the city, but Tania is wounded by shrapnel en route to the evacuation boats. Thinking she is dead, Danilov regrets his jealousy of Vasili and expresses disenchantment for his previous ardency of the Communist cause. Finding Vasili waiting to ambush König, Danilov intentionally exposes himself in order to provoke König into shooting him and revealing his hidden position. Thinking that he has killed Vasili, König goes to inspect the body, but realizes too late that he has fallen into a trap and is in Vasili's sights. He turns to face Vasili and takes off his hat, after which Vasily kills him. Two months later, after Stalingrad has been liberated and the German forces have surrendered, Vasili finds Tania recovering in a field hospital.
- Jude Law – Vasili Zaitsev
- Joseph Fiennes – Commisar Danilov
- Rachel Weisz – Tania Chernova
- Bob Hoskins – Nikita Khrushchev
- Ed Harris – Major Erwin König
- Ron Perlman – Koulikov
- Eva Mattes – Mother Filippova
- Gabriel Marshall-Thomson – Sasha Filippov
- Matthias Habich – General Friedrich Paulus
- Sophie Rois – Ludmilla
- Ivan Shvedoff – Volodya
- Mario Bandi – Anton
- Gennadi Vengerov – Starshina
- Mikhail Matveyev – Grandfather
Vasili Zaitsev was a senior sergeant of the 2nd Battalion, 1047th Rifle Regiment, 284th Tomsk Rifle Division. He was interviewed by Vasili Grossman during the battle and the account of that interview, lightly fictionalized in his novel, Life and Fate (1959), is substantially the same as that shown in the movie without naming the German sniper with whom he dueled.
Historian Antony Beevor suggests in his non-fiction book Stalingrad (1998) that, while Zaitsev was a real person, the story of his duel (dramatised in the film) with König is fictional. Although William Craig's book Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad (1973) includes a "sniper's duel" between Zaitsev and König, the sequence of events in the film is fictional. Zaitsev claimed in an interview to have engaged in a sniper duel over a number of days. Zaitsev, the only historical source for the story, stated that after killing the German sniper and upon collecting his tags, he found that he had killed the head of the Berlin Sniper School. No sniper named König has ever been identified in the German records.
In the film, Jude Law (portraying Zaitsev) uses a 7.62×54mmR Mosin Model 1891/30 sniper rifle with a PU 3.5 power sniper scope (i.e., the image is magnified three and a half times); Vasili Zaitsev used a Model 1891/30 sniper rifle with an earlier and larger sniper telescope (his rifle is preserved in Stalingrad History Museum in Russia). Also, the poster for the film reverses the Mosin 91/30 rifle photograph so that the bolt handle appears on the left side of the rifle instead of the right side where it should be.
Tania's character was heavily fictionalized. She was actually a sniper herself who trained under Zaitsev during the war and became one of the most infamous and ruthless snipers at Stalingrad. She was motivated to join the war as a means to avenge her grandparents who were murdered by invading Nazis.
Based on 137 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 54% approval rating from critics with an average score of 5.7/10. The reviews were summarized as "Atmospheric and thrilling, 'Enemy at the Gates' gets the look and feel of war right. However, the love story seems out of place." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating in the 0–100 range based on reviews from top mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 53 based on 33 reviews.
Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four and wrote that it "is about two men placed in a situation where they have to try to use their intelligence and skills to kill each other. When Annaud focuses on that, the movie works with rare concentration. The additional plot stuff and the romance are kind of a shame." New York Magazine's Peter Ranier was less kind, declaring "It's as if an obsessed film nut had decided to collect every bad war-film convention on one computer and program it to spit out a script." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone admitted the film had faults, but that "any flaws in execution pale against those moments when the film brings history to vital life."
The film was poorly received in the former Soviet Union. Some Red Army Stalingrad veterans were so offended by inaccuracies in the film and how the Red Army was portrayed that on 7 May 2001, shortly after the film premiered in Russia, they expressed their displeasure in the Duma, demanding a ban of the film, but their request was not granted.
The film was also received poorly in Germany. Critics claimed that it simplified history and glorified war. At the Berlinale film festival, it was booed. Annaud stated afterwards that he would not present another film at Berlinale, calling it a "slaughterhouse" and claiming that his film received much better reception elsewhere.
The soundtrack to Enemy at the gates was released on March 13, 2001.
|1.||"The River Crossing to Stalingrad"||James Horner||15:13|
|2.||"The Hunter Becomes the Hunted"||James Horner||5:53|
|3.||"Vassili's Fame Spreads"||James Horner||3:40|
|5.||"The Dream"||James Horner||2:35|
|6.||"Bitter News"||James Horner||2:38|
|7.||"The Tractor Factory"||James Horner||6:43|
|8.||"A Sniper's War"||James Horner||3:25|
|9.||"Sacha's Risk"||James Horner||5:37|
|11.||"Danilov's Confession"||James Horner||7:13|
|12.||"Tania (End Credits)"||James Horner||6:53|
- Credits according to BFI Retrieved 2012-06-27
- "Enemy at the Gates". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2008-10-20.
- "Interview with Jean-Jacques Annaud, referenced by Constantin Film". Epilog.de (in German).
- Grossman, Vasily (1959). "Part One, Chapter 55". Life and Fate.
- Russia's War
- "Enemy at the Gates Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
- "Enemy at the Gates: Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved September 9, 2014.
- "Enemy At The Gates". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "Is War Hell, Or What?". New York Magazine.
- Peter Travers (2001-03-16). "Enemy at the Gates | Movie Reviews". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
- Idiocy at the Gates: Americans will not notice, the Russian will not forgive — THE RUSSIAN BATTLEFIELD
- "Stalingrad veterans demand ban of Enemy at the Gates". Lenta.ru. 8 Mar 2001. Retrieved 2010-08-13.
- "VETERANS UPSET BY WESTERN MOVIE ON STALINGRAD", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Newsline, Volume 5, No. 89, Part I, May 10th, 2001".
- allesfilm.com (Ger.)
- filmspiegel.de (ger.)
- filmszene.de (Ger.)
- Kultur. "Jean-Jacques Annaud: "Töten ist nie lustig"". Spiegel.de. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
- Kultur. "Berlinale-Eröffnung: Buhrufe statt Prominenz". Spiegel.de. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
- "Enemy at the Gates Soundtrack". AllMusic. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Enemy at the Gates|
- Enemy at the Gates at the Internet Movie Database
- Enemy at the Gates in the British Film Institute's "Explore film..." database
- Enemy at the Gates at AllMovie
- Enemy at the Gates at Rotten Tomatoes
- Enemy at the Gates at Metacritic
- Enemy at the Gates at Box Office Mojo
- Enemy at the Gates Reviewed by David R. Stone, History Department, Kansas State University, published by H-War (June, 2002)
- Enema at The Gates: A Foreigner Will Not Notice, a Russian Will Not Forgive Reviewed by Valeri Potapov