|Enemy at the Gates [Blu-ray]
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Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 05/19/2009 Run time: 131 minutes Rating: R
Like Saving Private Ryan, Enemy at the Gates opens with a pivotal event of World War II--the German invasion of Stalingrad--re-created in epic scale, as ill-trained Russian soldiers face German attack or punitive execution if they flee from the enemy's advance. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud captures this madness with urgent authenticity, creating a massive context for a more intimate battle waged amid the city's ruins. Embellished from its basis in fact, the story shifts to an intense cat-and-mouse game between a Russian shepherd raised to iconic fame and a German marksman whose skill is unmatched in its lethal precision. Vassily Zaitzev (Jude Law) has been sniping Nazis one bullet at a time, while the German Major Konig (Ed Harris) has been assigned to kill Vassily and spare Hitler from further embarrassment.
There's love in war as Vassily connects with a woman soldier (Rachel Weisz), but she is also loved by Danilov (Joseph Fiennes), the Soviet officer who promotes his friend Vassily as Russia's much-needed hero. This romantic rivalry lends marginal interest to the central plot, but it's not enough to make this a classic war film. Instead it's a taut, well-made suspense thriller isolated within an epic battle, and although Annaud and cowriter Alain Godard (drawing from William Craig's book and David L. Robbins's novel The War of the Rats) fail to connect the parallel plots with any lasting impact, the production is never less than impressive. Highly conventional but handled with intelligence and superior craftsmanship, this is warfare as strategic entertainment, without compromising warfare as a manmade hell on Earth. --Jeff Shannon
- Blu-ray: Beautiful picture quality, nice use of sound and overall, powerful war film!
In March 2001, a World War II film adapted from a 1973 nonfiction book "Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad" by William Craig was released in theaters.
Featuring a screenplay written and directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud ("Wings of Courage", "L'Amant", "Seven Years in Tibet", etc.) along with co-writer Alain Godard ("Wings of Courage", "Der Name Der Rose", "Palace", etc.), the film which had a budget of $68 million, went on to make over $96 million worldwide.
"ENEMY OF THE GATES" is a fictionalized story about the Russian sniper hero Vassili Zaitsev. Known for killing hundreds of Axis soldiers using a Mosin-Nagant rifle but also a symbol of success for the Russians in their use of training of snipers.
The film begins with a young Vassili being taught by his grandfather how to shoot a fox that is about to hunt down a horse. We are then taken to World War II where Vassili (Jude Law) is a Red Army soldier and is traveling in a cattle truck with soldiers and civilians. He immediately takes notice of a beautiful woman (Rachel Weisz).
The cattle truck is then turned to a military convoy headed to Stalingrad, which is being under attack from the Germans. We see soldiers trying to cross the Volga getting gunned down and slaughtered as the Germans have airplanes to take down the ships in the sea.
The Russian military issues the warning that if anyone from the Red Army attempts to run or retreat, they will be killed. The groups are split into two groups. One that is assigned with a Mosin-Nagant rifle, while the other carries ammunition. Vassili is given the ammunition.
Because of misinformation of how far the control the Germans have of the city, members of the Red Army end up being slaughtered by their own military for violating the rule.
We then see a car driving through the streets and becomes under fire from the German, eventually knocking the car over. The driver, Commissar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) hides amongst the bodies of other Russians. As the Germans come and make sure all Russians are dead, a few of the Nazi military leaders start to relax while one takes a shower outside of a destroyed building.
Commissar Danilov gets one of the rifles but he is not a real soldier that knows how to fire guns but one of the Russian survivors, Vassili tells him that he will take all five of the Germans out and he does so by using a rifle with one shot each. Danilov is grateful that Vassili was there to take them down and is amazed of what courage this young man had in taking on the Nazi's literally by himself.
Meanwhile, Nikita Khrushchev (Bob Hoskins) arrives in Stalingrad to coordinate defense strategies. Because of the constant lead changes between the Russians the Germans, morale is down. To improve morale, Commissar Danilov offers Khrushchev a suggestion that the Russians need to have a hero. When asked if he knows of one, Danilov suggests Vassili.
Commissar Danilov who has the job of boosting morale through media like newspapers and propaganda fliers has took his new friend Vassili and made him the major hero throughout Russia. Wherever Vassili shows up, the Russian soldiers are inspired to have him around. Vassili is now transferred to the Russian sniper division.
As the film progresses, Vassili ends up at the home of Mother Filipov (Eva Mattes) who lives with her son Sacha (Gabriel Thomson). That is where Vassili is reunited with the beautiful woman he saw when he first became a soldier. The woman is a soldier named Tania Chernova (Rachel Weisz) who learned German.
Vassili is happy to see Tania but so is Commissar Danilov who seems to have fallen for the soldier as well. He immediately tries to convince her that her knowledge of German can help the Russians intelligence decode German communication.
Meanwhile, Vassili's fame continues to grow as he and the other snipers are killing off German soldiers and officers. The Germans who are aware of the Russian hero, Vassili decide to bring their top sniper to go after him. His name is Major Erwin Konig (Ed Harris), an excellent sniper and the head of the German Army Sniper School.
While Vassili and other snipers are out on a mission, Major Konig takes out two of the snipers that accompanied Vassili. Immediately, Vassili knows that Kong's precision and his way of hunting is excellent and feels that he may not be up to the job to take him on.
Danilov knowing that his friend is feeling a bit down about the situation, brings in Koulikov (Ron Perlman), a sniper who trained under Konig before the war. Koulikov then trains Vassili on the ways Major Konig thinks and behaves.
Thus begins the cat-and-mouse game between Vassili and Major Konig and who has the skills and experience to take each other out. Meanwhile, the relationship intensifies for Tania and Vassili but what will happen when Commissar Danilov who also has fallen for Tania finds out his friend Vassili (who knows that Danilov is smitten with her) is also going for her behind his back?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"ENEMY AT THE GATES" receives its 1080p High Definition transfer (2:35:1 aspect ratio) which looks absolutely wonderful when watching the war unfold. Just watching the war in the first half hour as chaos erupts during a cold, cloudy day with this bluish tinge showing bleakness was well captured by Director of Photography (Robert Fraisse).
With that being said, the majority of the shots during days of overcast and conditions were not colorful and vibrant. Indoor scenes showcase a yellowness as natural lighting and places where there are no electricity shows the amber effects with blacks all around the characters.
"ENEMY AT THE GATES" is not a film to expect color vibrancy, its a film depicting war with many lives lost, times when the Russian forces feel they don't know themselves if they will live another day. I didn't notice any compression artifacts and even in times of darkness, I think I saw may a little speckle but overall, the transfer to HD was well done.
As for audio, the 5.1 Dolby TrueHD transfer (also featured are French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks) was great but not excellent. There is very good use of direction of sound from the ongoing bombings throughout the city which utilizes the low frequency of the subwoofer, then during scenes where there are many Russians around, you can hear those people talk in the fronts while dialogue is coming straight from the center speaker. Sniper shots and rifle shots are also done well as you can hear the bullets zipping and hitting its target on impact. But if there was one weakness that I found, I did not notice any usage of the rear surrounds.
This was surprising because you hear the front channel and subwoofer being utilized but I was putting my ear right next to my rear surrounds during several scenes and I didn't hear anything. Made sure to switch to another film to make sure that things were working correctly and surround utilization was fine, switched back to "ENEMY AT THE GATES" and no rear surround usage. Overall, audio use was very good but it would have been even better if the rears were utilized effectively.
Subtitles are featured in English, English SDH, French and Spanish.
"ENEMY AT THE GATES" features several informative special features which include:
* Through the Crosshairs - (19:35) Interviews with Director Jean-Jacques Annaud, producers and talent. How they wanted the right people to accomplish their goal for this film. How they looked at different spots in Europe to film the battle sequences and settled in Germany and for the river scenes right near the Polish border. And then dissecting several scenes such as the many lead changes between the Russians and Germans during the Battle of Stalingrad. How the talents had to train with a rifle and how 600 extras were used, 250,000 pounds of smoke oil and the challenges they had since the extras spoke different languages and they had to time the explosions and the extras correctly. A very informative special feature.
* Inside Enemy at the Gates - (15:01) Interviews with Director Jean-Jacques Annaud and the four major talent. How the cast studied a little about World War II and the involvement of the Russians, being trained with a rifle and their impression of their characters and working witch each other. Then each discussing their favorite scenes from the film and also how difficult it was for Jude Law to have the love scene with Rachel Weisz knowing that many people were around them.
* Deleted Scenes - (10:13) A total of nine deleted scenes. Two key deleted scenes showing the closeness of Tania Chernova and Mother Filipov when discussing her parent's death and also Vassili talking about sleep deprivation and Koulikov telling him that its the worst thing for a sniper. But also a key scene which shows what happens with Danilov's final report about Vassili.
* Theatrical Trailer HD - (2:27) The original theatrical trailer in High Definition.
"ENEMY AT THE GATES" is a very impressive war film. Around the time this film came out, I was impressed by the amount of extras utilized for the film but to see body parts and blood spatters (in one scene it gets on the camera). This was filmed wonderfully!
I was also impressed with the performances with all four major talents. Jude Law did a great job as Vassili, and on one side we know he is the great sniper of Russia but when not on the battlefield, he was a man in love. Ed Harris who plays the antagonist is just a wonderful actor and did a great job playing Major Konig. And the performances by Rachel Weisz and Joseph Fiennes are absolutely fabulous.
If you take the film on its own as a fictionalized story, then you can probably enjoy the screenplay as it shows the bleakness of war but how, during war, love is found and how love was lost. It's a powerful film... But its a powerful film that can be marred by the fact that certain scenes are embellished for the sake of the story. This is not a factual story.
There were protests in Russia of how Russian soldiers and officers were being depicted. For example, soldiers who were forced by their officers to attack Nazi machine guns in a suicide attempt and if they retreated, the officers shot and killed their own. For Russians who honor their war heroes and those who lost their lives at "The Battle of Stalingrad", they have every right to have been upset with how the soldiers were depicted.
But this is a fictional film inspired from three pages of the original book by William Craig. It's indeed a powerful film with strong images of war and a film featuring wonderful performances from the talent. The Blu-ray HD transfer is well-done and fans of the film may want to double dip if they have own the original DVD release solely for picture quality and lossless audio.
I enjoyed "ENEMY AT THE GATES" and I definitely recommend it on Blu-ray!...more info
- 4 stars - but with a few caveats...
I enjoyed this movie, and give it 4 stars for its scenery, props and acting.
However, you'll have to already know (i.e., have studied) the Eastern Front war in general and the Stalingrad battle in particular to understand the overall war picture. By that I mean in the movie the Soviets seem to go from almost certain defeat to victory without explanation. (The real explanation, by the way, was largely twofold - the Germans grossly over extended their supply lines, and the Russians very smartly fed just enough troops into Stalingrad to keep the Germans fixated on "winning" there until the Russians could organize their encircling counter-attack. None of this comes out in the movie).
The setting, scenes, uniforms & weapons, were accurately protrayed to a very good level of detail. Too bad the plot wasn't treated the same. It starts off as a broad heroic story, which then narrows to a conflict between Zaitsev and Koenig, with a love triangle of Zaitsev-Tanya-Danilov thrown in. Plot development is the film's weakest point in my opinion.
There are some inaccuracies, such as the locking of the Russian cattle-car troop trains - that was NOT the Soviet's practice! They left them open in case of air attack. Things like that scene are most likely the result of American (or more generally, western) inclinations to view the Communists as indifferent to life or as some sort of slave-labor-based society. Mismanagement aside, the Russians suffered terribly from the war.
Its a good movie - but don't take it as history. Zaitsev was a real person though and a real hero, as was Tanya. Major Koenig is now believed to be a propaganda invention.
For the real story of Stalingrad, I'd suggest reading the book "Enemy at the Gates" by William Craig - a very easy read....more info
- Enemy at the Gates
Very powerful movie I've always enjoyed and now, my daughter is doing a report on the same. Thank goodness for continued excellent movie making !!! This is a movie that will certainly hold your attention and focuses on other aspects that certainly do occur during any war. Worth watching....more info
- A microcosm of the gigantic war between the Nazis and Soviets.
The opening scenes capture the realities of war almost as effectively as was done in "Saving Private Ryan." This movie does something that so many other WWII movies does so stupidly, though: It tries to drive a romance into the middle of a survival of the fittest mortal combat film. I don't mind such a thing in a work of fiction, but this movie is about the Battle of Stalingrad, which is probably the most important battle of WWII.
Actually, the film is about a legend that grew in Soviet Russia during WWII, and this story puts it into that great battle. The opening scenes are pure adrenaline pumping combat that is stark and terrible. As the film settles down, though, we begin to focus in on a highly politicized duel between a pair of snipers. One is a peasant from Russia. The other is a professional from Nazi Germany. They hunt for one another through the broken city of Stalingrad, each attempting to find their advantage against the other.
To be sure, the sniper scenes are a bit far fetched, the love story is strange, the political drama overdone. The mass combat is spectacular. Watch this film for a look at that for yourself. The climax is ridiculous, especially for a sniper war. I suggest that you watch this film once just to get an idea of the nature of combat between the professional German army and the conscripted peasant army of the Soviet Union. It will give you a small look at the struggle that cost 20 million Soviets' lives....more info
- This is a very smart and romantic movie.
This movie shows a pivotal moment in Russian history. It shows the Russian military during a very important moment in World War II. The music is sublime. This movie is very good. It shows love, war, and politics in a way that people can understand how it relates to national interest....more info
- Superb contemporary production of the WW II Stalingrad seige
Wow! Realism beyond compare in a great new war film about the WW II German invasion of Stalingrad. Two snipers pair off against one another -- high suspense and an incredible story.
There is also the expected love story sub-plot but not to the degree that the horror of this insurrection is in any way diminished.
The cinematography is astounding and the scenes are quite graphic. This is one to see, no doubt about it!...more info
- for once a reluctent hero
In spite of other reviews and critisms this movie is a classic to me and probably a lot closer to fact than most "Hollywood" war movies. Fully accurate or not, how refreshing to have a war hero without an ego. Was the intention to give a full history lesson or to focus on the intriguing game of cat and mouse of the opposing sharpshooters Vassily Zaitzev(Jude Law)and the German Major Konig (Ed Harris)with the battle for Stalingrad as the backdrop. If you want a history lesson get a documentry.Great performances all round. ...more info
- Uneven Historical Epic
An underexplored WWII chapter, the battle for Stalingrad, is interestingly examined in this big budget epic...notable for its spectacular battle scenes and another pitch perfect performance from the gifted Jude Law.
Unfortunately, the screenplay follows in the footsteps of TITANIC and PEARL HARBOR by tossing in the obligatory Hollywood "love triangle" (scored by James Horner, you often think the iceberg might be just around the next corner) which doesn't work, in spite of Law and the excellent Rachel Weisz.
Top billed Joseph Fiennes is out of his element and can't keep up with his two main costars. His scenes with Bob Hoskins, who seems to channel Kruschev by way of Danny Devito, are similarly lackluster. Ed Harris, who looks every bit the part of a Nazi aristocrat, looks like he's more concerned about why he's speaking with an American accent than he does about finding his prey. The accents, incidentally, range from Midwestern to Cockney to Ye Olde English to unintelligible (Ron Perlman) ...everything under the sun, except German or Russian: the nationalities of all the characters.
The intellectual and charismatic director, Jean-Jacques Annaud, was apparently trying to be all things to all people and the result is a mediocre movie worth watching if only for the battle scenes and Law/Weitz performances.
The DVD offers no particularly interesting special features. Given the fact that such an important episode in WWII history has been under exploited by Hollywood, a director or historian's commentary track would have been welcome....more info
- The true picture of war
Terrible yet fascinating tale of the horrors of war. This represents the true and ugly view of war. ...more info
- excellent!!! will buy from again!! The best!
Excellent movie! Vassilly is a true hero, and this is the finest war movie I have ever seen....more info
- MIDDLING, JUST MIDDLING...
"Enemy at the Gates" is a middling entry in the canon of World War II films. The battle sequences are fantastic, and the visual effects are awesome. However, the storytelling elements are weak. What was an interesting story from World War II is muddled up with an unneeded love triangle arc, and the scenes meant to be menacing turn out being rather dull. If that wasn't bad enough, none of the actors use accents that were true to the characters. All of the Russian characters have British accents, and Ed Harris' German sports an American accent. This has the affect of distancing the viewer from the story. James Horner's original score sounds too much like John Williams' music from "Schindler's List," which also ruins the momentum of the film.
The acting is alright. Jude Law has never impressed me as an actor, and his performance as Vassili shows he has little talent. Joseph Fiennes is a good actor, but is rather bland as Vassili's friend. Bob Hoskins is a fine actor, but is unimpressive and not menacing enough to pull off the role of Nikita Kruschev. Ed Harris also lacks the menace to pull off the character of Major Konig. The two standout performances in the film are Rachel Weiz as Tania, and Ron Perlman ("Hellboy") in a brief role as a Russian soldier.
Overall, "Enemy at the Gates" is a rather bland World War II epic. While the action is good, the story and acting is weak. I recommend seeing it once, and that's it.
Grade: C+...more info
- The Frozen Firestorm.
Undoubtedly Jean-Jacques Annaud is an unconventional director. With only ten films done up to this moment he has managed to impact the audience more than once.
His movies in brief: "Black & White in Color" (1976) won the Best Foreign Film Oscar, "Quest for Fire" (1981) French Cesar Award and Academy of Sci-fi Award, tell the story of a cave-man in search of fire, with only grunts and growls. "The Name of the Rose" (1986), "The Bear" (1988) and the controversial "The Lover" (1992) completes his works.
In "Enemy at the Gates" (2001) he delivers a realistic and shocking recount of the Battle for Stalingrad based on true facts and followed mainly from the Soviet side of the fence.
The story follows Vassili Zaitsev the green unarmed recruit ejected into Stalingrad thru his steady transformation into the Soviet Master Sniper, worshiped as a demigod by his comrades and feared by his enemies.
This transmutation happens thru the odd relationship between Zaitsev and Commissar Danilov, who manipulates the hero for propagandistic effect and to enhance his own career.
The future Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev is also an important character as he is the ruthless Commanding Political Commissar that terrorizes his own people to force them to bear the unbearable.
From the German side another Master Sniper is launched to search and destroy Zaitsev.
From here on a gory tragic ballet starts its dance thru the ruins, each sniper being alternatively hunter or prey until the end.
The reconstruction of the battle with the aid of modern computerized techniques is impeccable. The Stukas plunging over the crowded ferries and boats is a hair-rising scene. The ruined city, the house to house combat, the catacomb like passages, famine, numbing cold, everything is present with accurate detail.
Playacting is very good. Jude Law as Zaitsev is very accurate he puts up a mixture of naivet¨¦, stubbornness and tenderness that give deepness to his character. Bob Hoskins as Khrushchev and Joseph Fiennes are great. Special mention must be done for Ed Harris as the German sniper and Rachel Weisz as Tania Chernova, Vassili's friend, lover and war-mate.
It is very good WWII movies do not miss it!
Reviewed by Max Yofre.
- Enemy at the gate
The movie is great but you do not carry the DVD in Full screen. I do not like to watch this movie on a wide screen format. I would love to have this movie in my library if it was in full screen format....more info
- I extra star for the camerawork,
which is really magnificent in this. The acting ranges from superb to good, and the story is captivating as well as interesting. Suffice to say if you like WW2 epics, you'll like this a lot. The only real problem has been mentioned by a few others, too: the film s simply too long, and spends too much time on politics and not enough on the action, which is, of course, the premise of the whole film. Several scenes are especially chilling, not all of them involving overt violence....more info
- Cat and Mouse
Set during the fall of Stalingrad in World War two, "Enemy at the Gates" focuses on Vassili Zaitsev, a poor soldier who has a gift for sharp shooting. That gift comes to the attention of Commisar Danilov, who sees Zaitsev as a political propaganda coup for an ailing Russian military. The Germans call in a sniper of their own, a Major Konig, to deal with this sniper who is growing in fame.
The tension is thick in this movie, as the two snipers stalk each other. However, around them is the maelstrom of the Battle of Stalingrad. The stark realities of the Russian army are very realistic, with soldiers sharing a single weapon, living in horrid conditions, and suffering badly.
The attempts of the political officers to exploit Zaitsev for their own goals are also highlighted. Their sometimes cynical use of people to advance the glory of the Motherland is sometimes horrible to contemplate and view.
The movie is earthy and real, and the acting is excellent. Jude Law is great in the lead roll. I was very impressed with the cast of the movie.
Not an action filled gore-fest like We Were Soldiers (Widescreen Edition), it is certainly realistic in its depictions. It is a good movie with lots of tense moments. I enjoyed this movie a lot....more info
- "You won't give up the river bank! I don't care if you've lost half your men, lose the other half!"
Enemy at the Gates, despite being mostly fictitious, is a very entertaining film that accurately depicts much of the fighting in Stalingrad. Though the focus in this film is on the duel between snipers Vassili Zaitsev and Major Koenig, short battle sequences are thrown in periodically to remind us there's a bigger war taking place.
For the most part, the sequences in Enemy at the Gates are believable, if not quite historically accurate. There are a couple of questionable scenes, such as Koenig walking out in the open at the end (a rookie mistake) and his rank (Majors in the Wehrmacht were never snipers), but it is about entertainment, after all.
One of my biggest complaints with this film, however, is that the Russian characters are predominantly portrayed by British actors. Needless to say, the accents are ridiculous. The acting is superb, though, with both Jude Law and Ed Harris delivering excellent performances.
Argue about the inaccuracies all you want, Enemy at the Gates is still an entertaining film that kept me enthralled throughout. I highly recommend seeing it....more info
- A fairly historical rendition of the Eastern Front...
For all the widespread critical acclaim that surrounded the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan (which portrayed the D-Day invasion Normandy landing), little is said about the opening scenes of Enemy At The Gates. Just as lifelike and certainly as, if not more, compelling, Enemy At The Gates paints a vivid picture of the Battle of Stalingrad...
As Nazi forces besiege the city, Russian peasants are shipped across the river in undefended boats. As Luftwaffe swoop down from the skies and rain bullets on the men below, only the mountain of bodies that topple on top of a man can save him from being shot himself. Those who do survive and make it to shore are armed with a single Kalashnikov - but not every man, only every other man... The unarmed men are instructed to follow a man with gun, and when he is killed, to pick up the weapon himself and fight the enemy valiantly.
Sharp-shooting farm boy Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law) finds himself thrust into this bloody environment. As part of the initial wave of the Russian advance, he is forced to play dead and hide among the mangled bodies of his countrymen when the Germans annihilate the Russian offensive. Using the bodies as cover, he puts his sniper skills to work, not against the animals he used to shoot for food, but against German officers exposed to his crosshairs. Vassili's brilliant talents are immediately recognized by Commisar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) who ends up befriending the man.
As a powerful figure in the Communist propaganda machine, Danilov uses his skills and connections to transform Vassili into a larger-than-life hero, creating the impression that he is capable of defeating the German army all by himself. It's Danilov's hope that by creating a recognizable face for the war effort, he can raise the morale of the Russian forces and turn the tide against the advancing German armies.
But the relationship between the two men becomes complicated when Vassili and Danilov both fall in love with the same woman, a female soldier named Tania Chernova (Rachel Weisz). Will Danilov's jealousies turn him against his friend? The man who made Vassili is certainly capable of tearing him down, and in the Soviet Union, no one is above the wrath of Stalin... Vassili's problems are further accentuated by the announced arrival of his German counterpart, Major Konig (Ed Harris), winner of the Iron Cross and the most celebrated sniper in German history.
Based on the true story of the two real life soldiers, Zaitsev and Konig, Enemy At The Gates sticks closely to the historical record concerning the showdown between these noted wartime figures. Were they mere creations of propaganda? Or was this the individual battle of the century? Only history can make that distinction. Meanwhile, Enemy At The Gates makes a place for itself among the great war dramas of our era. A well-cultivated screenplay, coupled with an unparalleled visual display of the destructiveness of war, makes this a must-see film - both for its educational and historical value as well as its edge-of-your-seat excitement...
The DVD Report...more info
- Nice Shot, Comrade
In the epic opening battle scene, a trainload of fresh-faced recruits being hustled into battle learn the buddy system Soviet-style: An officer yells into a bullhorn, "The one with the rifle shoots; the one without follows him. When the one with the rifle gets killed, the one who is following picks up the rifle and shoots." It's surreal, but a fitting introduction to a movie about the harrowing, intersecting worlds of a sniper and a propagandist.
The hero gets his rifle (a very bad thing for Wehrmacht officers), but the film never develops into the sniper movie action-oriented viewers expect. Instead, it has more to say about the megaphone than the Dragunov, offering insights aplenty into propaganda in wartime and the terror of life under Stalin. On top of that, there's a robust allegorical layer far more complex than it first appears.
As a couple or three hundred reviewers have noted, this film has its share of problems: The plot twists are telegraphed, a Russian accent couldn't be located for Mr. Law, the lighting calls attention to itself, and the romantic element has all the chemistry of a firefly. But unless you watch movies like a producer, you can probably put the nit-picking aside and enjoy the film.
Oh, and one last thing: Apparently, Soviet rifles never need cleaning. And to think they lost the Cold War.
- Remember the line about histories being written by the victors?
First off, the star rating for this movie is 3.625 stars. This is the averaged conclusion of four of us watching Enemy at the Gates ( we gave it a 4.0, 4.5, 3.0, and 3.0 stars, respectively).
"Well, I thought the acting was pretty darn good" (4.5).
"Good killing scenes" (4.0).
"I thought it was pretty realistic about war... dirty, grimy, and people die" (4.5).
"I thought the sniper scenes were very well done... you have to know your enemy, see your enemy" (4.0).
"It had the "Saving Private Ryan" flavor, mixed with a love story, a story about friendship, and a clear example of the cruelty of war" (3.0).
"It was okay, I guess" (3.0).
Our conclusion? Entertaining and gritty. Not the best of war-themed movies, but John Wayne wasn't swaggering around either. The viewer won't have the best understanding of which aspects of this story were true and which were all Hollywood. The Russians were noble and the Germans were beasts. Remember the line about histories being written by the victors? There you go!
We appreciated the reality of war being presented as "... dirty, grimy, and people die." Certainly, in any war, there are stories of luck, of hope, and of love. We also know that the dirty, grimy, and people dying part predominates. The film is true in that regard. We'll leave the accuracy of the history to other reviewers....more info
- Good VFX
Love the "seamless" vfx in this period film. I was greatly impressed with the set extensions. Really added to the film without drawing attention away....more info
- wonderful duel, in the context of war-torn Stalingrad
This is a really good film of a talented fighter, Zaitsev, who is chosen as a tool of political propaganda in a desperate era. The acting is wonderful, from Law as the hero, Fiennes as the political propagandist and Hoskins as Krushchev, to Ed Harris as the sensitive and hoghly talented villain/sniper. I have watched this, utterly rivetted, several times these last months, and my fascination with the historical period and characters is undiminished.
Warmly recommended....more info
- Enemy at the Gates - well done
This has become one of my favorite movies with Jude Law. I wasn't sure I would enjoy a war movie, but found this story of the 2 snipers, with the backdrop of the Second WW in Stalingrad compelling. Jean-Jacques Annoud co-wrote, produced and directed this film released in 2001. Not your usual war movie, but focused on the main characters: Ed Harris as Major Konig the German officer brought to kill Zaitsev and their struggles to survive successful in eliminating the other; and it follows the relationship of political officer Danilov (Joseph Feinnes) and Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law) through many ups and downs of support, neglect, political wrangling, and later jealousy over the love interest played by Rachael Weisz. In the end Danilov sees the truth of the situation and how he used Zaitsev to serve his own purposes and questions the meaning of war. This movies deals more with the battle of wits between the snipers, and the rivalry between the 2 russians for the love of the woman, than the bigger picture of the Battle of Stalingrad. I thought it was well done; interesting; and is based on a true story....more info
- the eastern front - the REAL reason why Germany lost
Not seeing much of the Eastern Front portrayed in movies, I found it fascinating. I mean, both countries fighting are ruthless and aggressive and basically run by evil men. It's weird, we usually see good versus bad in war movies like this (meaning, America vs Whoever Else), so it was hard to take my eyes away from fighting armies who have no regard for human life on either side. Not that this is what the movie is REALLY about. We all know it's about sniper versus sniper, and I agree with the other reviewer that it's about the PEOPLE involved, how they deal with existing in a surreal war environment like this. What drags the movie a little IS the romantic subplot, but the other subplot about the German sniper and the Russian boy was actually very interesting. Not the greatest war movie, but certainly fresh and much needed. Whenever I watch it playing on a movie channel, I can't take my eyes off it. I suppose I should buy the DVD....more info
- Enemy at the Gates - Blu-ray Info
Version: U.S.A / Paramount / Region Free
MPEG-4 AVC BD-50 / AACS / High Profile 4.1
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Running time: 2:11:05
Movie size: 39,700,334,592 bytes (39,70 GB)
Disc size: 44,270,460,575 bytes (44,27 GB)
Total bit rate: 40.38 Mbps
Average video bit rate: 31.94 Mbps
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 3485 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3485 kbps / 24-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Number of chapters: 20...more info
- Please Hold Onto the Bar
"The Enemy at the Gates" is a war movie like few others ever made. It's promotional "hook" is the lethal, real life cat-and-mouse game between a German sniper and a Russian sniper during World War II. But the abject, brutal Power you are going to feel - the blow to your chest that will have you aching all over comes from the setting - the incredible squalor and waste of the siege/defense of Stalingrad.
Every sight is overcast, dark, dingy, dirty, cold and deadly. The people, if you can believe they are still people, seem most like maggots scurrying about in a cold, dank tomb, day after grinding day.
Every mindless, ghastly horror of War you can think of, from the total Dehumanization of young and old - to the pointless mass reduction of lives to gore and stench - to the total Avarice of politicians - to the total Malignancy of Greed and Power - is hurled straight into in your face. And yet... when you have long since decided those wretched pawns could never ever be live people again you will suddenly find yourself watching a lovemaking scene so totally Erotic yet so totally Human, and, somehow, so genuinely Artistic you WILL be absolutely spellbound. And that will be the point you finally feel some precious shred of hope you will actually be back in the light of your "real" world when the movie ends. "The Enemy at the Gate" is a slow, excruciatingly dismal trip across the River Styx - and back. Use your own discretion. ...more info
- A classic war movie!
I love WWII movies. This one is a modern classic. Don't miss it!...more info
- A Typical view from the west of the great patriotic war.
The movie is set in Russia, Stalingrad(Now known as Volgograd after Premier Nikita Kruschev changed it when stalin's falsified image was uncovered by Nikita) starring Jude Law as Vassili Zaitsev a Russian born soviet sniper expert and one of the all time soviet sniper aces of world war two, the movie is mixed with parts of fact and alot of american/western propaganda after the war and when the coldwar began, the movie begins with Jude's character being forced from one transport to another, as a conscript in the soviet army, namely a poorly equiped, badly moralled and poorly used soviet army(all mostly being myths for a deeper depth and urgency to the movie thus being hollywoodized) Jude's character find himself becoming a sniper in the russian army after showing his skill to a officer, Danilov and this is where a love triangle begins minus one angle so well it's just a love story begins, Vassili and Danilov become fast friends, Danilov being a politcal officer in charge of propaganda to counter the Nazi propaganda chooses Vassili to be the hope of stalingrad, a person that all slavic soldiers and civilians could look up to in the dire time of the war, so to ensure his own position and safety from his higher ups Danilov rests his hopes on Vassili as well, soon after Vassili becomes a major threat to the fascists war effort in stalingrad and send their own sniper ace to counter Vassili and his fledgling student snipers, and counter he does, Ed Harres as Major Konig soon meets up to vassili on the battle field in a game of hide and seek in the torn city of stalingrad, from the love triangle both vassili and danilov meet up with a local city milita girl named Tania Chernova played by Rachel Weisz, Tania soon after Vassili and Danilov begin to compete for this girl.
Without spoiling the ending, enemy at the gates is a good action movie, but DO NOT take this movie as any type of historical reference, the movie is mostly mythical in almost every way so if your looking for a action WW2 movie then this ones for you, if your looking for a accurate ww2 movie do not get this....more info
- Excellent War Film
This is one of the best war films I have ever seen. Jude Law is excellent, as is the action....more info
- This movie is fair, but that's all
Judging by all the comments made about the historical innacuracy of this film (somehow the outcome of biggest battle in the history of the world hinges on the personal gun duel between a Russian speaking with an English accent and a German speaking with an American accent), or the hackneyed way the contrived romance displaces what ought to be the real story in the movie (the sniper duel), I still rented this movie hoping that I would like it.
To be honest, there were some very fascinating parts of this film -- even the innactuarate ones like the nonsensical opening phase of the film is still interesting to watch.
The sniper scenes are also interesting to watch, however I doubt that a huge battle between several hundred thousands of soldiers would suddenly cease just so that a sniper duel between two people can have greater dramatic tension. There are many points when the snipers reveal themselves in the open where, although perhaps invulnerable to each other, would make wonderful targets for other soldiers, including other snipers.
I also found the ending very odd. I got the impression that when the Russians were evacuating the city across the Volga river, that the Germans were poised for victory. Suddenly, the movie cuts to the next scene where somehow the Germans lost. Although this is true historically, the movie offers no context or explanation for the sudden change in fortune. In reality the change in fortune came about because of large Russian army counterattacks on an overextended German line, but the movie tries to tell you that the battle was decided one the Russian sniper bested the German sniper.
Overall, an okay movie. My boyfriend majors in european history and he was more disappointed in this movie than I. I could stand the romance, however the way it was played was too cutesy and unlikely. This movie is a throw-away popcorn flick that for some reason thinks it's better than it really is. A wannabe epic in the Pearl Harbor (2001) vein. ...more info
- Historically inaccurate, pretentious, and dull
Some of the top Amazon reviews of this picture praise Hollywood for making a war film about the Russian front. This was certainly the decisive battlefield in my opinion and has been underrepresented in Western film. Judging simply from Hollywood films, you'ld think the war was won when Rommel was thrown out of North Africa or when Tom Hanks landed on Omaha Beach. From my perspective, however, if this film is the best Hollywood can do to tell the story of the fighting on the Eastern front, they shouldn't bother. The basic premise of this film is a tale of two snipers hunting each other in the the ruins of Stalingrad. The Soviet sniper has killed many German officers, and the Germans has brought in a specialist from Berlin to counter him. Throw in a beautiful love interest, and you have the makings of a war melodrama. This film has so many flaws that my 2-star rating is generous. First, there are so many historical inaccuracies in this film that it has negative historical merit. That is, after watching this film, you'll know less about Stalingrad and the Eastern Front than before watching this film. Almost every bit of historical information in this film is wrong. A well made war movie should, in my opinion, try to retain as much historical accuracy as possible so that the viewer can both get a feel for the action and a learn something in the process. I'm not going to list everything that is wrong with this film (e.g. the Sniper Division?!?!?!?!?), but a five minute perusal of the Wikipedia entry on Stalingrad after watching this film will show you the gross inaccuracies. For a serious student of WWII, this film is an insult. Second, putting aside the historical inaccuracies, the story is overly melodramatic and simply dull. I didn't find the characters interesting, compelling, or believable. The director's attempts to portray the magnitude of the violence on the Eastern front were simply laughable. This film conveys none of the emotional impact of films such as Saving Private Ryan. This whole film feels like a video game. The love triangle aspect doesn't play out well, and the self-doubt of the characters gives the whole film an air of pretentiousness. It certainly does not make the characters more human, it makes them less interesting.
Bottom line - if you are an even somewhat serious student of WWII, I wouldn't waste my time watching this even as a rental. I strongly discourage anyone from actually buying this DVD, a waste of money. I give this film 2 stars because I've seen worse, but there isn't much here....more info
- 2-18-07 Good War Movie 14 yr olds review
If you liked Windtalkers or Saving Private Ryan then this movie is just for you, mainly because like Saving Private Ryan, blood and gore, men, and guns hit the screen within five minutes. Now, There is a twist to the story which is between the battle a love story and friendship, but dont worry there are still a lot of good fighting scenes. Enemy At The Gates is about a new recruit going into the battle to defend the great city of Stalingrad. As he gets more and more expieriance as a Russian sniper he falls in love with a fellow woman sniper. And thats the bad part because when do you see a great war movie when the hero has the hots for a woman in battle? The only downfall to this great war film is the sex scene. Which just wasnt very realistic to the war. Other than that, this movie is great. But I will tell you right off the bat, its not a very safe childrens movie, i'm 14 and I was moved by the image and picture of this movie. My dad lets me watch most war movies and I have to say this one was easier to get through than Saving Private Ryan because there was less swearing, gore, killing, and overall, violence. But still there was enough gore and violence to fullfill all you war movie fans. I hope this review helped you in all ways. Thanks for reading....more info
- An Engrossing Story of Two Man Hunters: Deserves More Credit Than it Receives
For what it's worth, this film deserves more credit than it is frequently given. I think that most criticisms of the film stem from the reviewers entering the film with certain preconceived notions about how what the film was going to be, only to be let down. I don't blame the reviewers entirely. ENEMY AT THE GATES is a little unsure of what it wants to become. Should we make a film that accurately captures the battle of Stalingrad? Should we, instead, focus on the wonderful story of these two rival snipers? Or should we try and communicate an even more personal story about love and the evils of war? Unfortunately, ENEMY AT THE GATES tries to accomplish all three and, if judged by any single standard, ultimately fails.
Let me take them in turn. ENEMY AT THE GATES begins in a manner quite reminiscent of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. After a quick character development scene in which we see our young protagonist being taught how to stalk and snipe a wolf, we suddenly see him thrust amongst the Red Army, railed off to the shores of the Volga River, and thrown into the midst of a German siege. The opening is spectacular and moving. Thousands of Russian soldiers are being ferried across the Volga while German dive bombers and artillery decimate their numbers. As if that isn't bad enough, those wise enough to try and flee the fight are mercilessly gunned down by their own Russian commanders. While some have criticized this movie for historical accuracy, such things did occur. And just in case you think I'm trying to demonize the Russian commanders, ENEMY AT THE GATES provides these men with plenty of motivation. They are the ones who must answer to the high command, who demand victory at all costs. What would we do? Of course, this film is not perfectly historically accurate. From this point on, we do not get much story about the battle for Stalingrad. The ending of the film leaves the outcome of this battle completely mysterious. If you came looking for a movie purely about the battle and the Russian front, you came to the wrong place. While I think that the action scenes are skillfully handled, this is obviously not where the film's interest lies.
What is the interest? It is about the incredible struggle, based on true events, that occurred during the battle. For while both armies attack each other brutally, two men endlessly hunt each other, putting each other's skill to the ultimate test. Our protagonist, Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law), plays a Russian peasant who was taught by his grandfather how to shoot. An expert marksmen and natural talent, Zaitsev stalks the German army, proving his skill time and time again. Thanks to his friend Commisar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes), a political officer in charge of the military press, Zaitsev soon becomes an iconic hero of the Russian army--a symbol of communist dominance over fascist Germany. Germany begins to take notice and sends out their best sniper to hunt the young Russian down. Killing him would deal a symbolic death blow to Russia. Germany's marksmen is Major K?nig (Ed Harris), an aristocratic deer hunter and the instructor at the sniper school in Berlin. As soon as K?nig enters the picture, ENEMY AT THE GATES takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the film is about the rivalry of these two men. For me, this is the most interesting storyline in the film. Both Ed Harris and Jude Law have an intensity about them, often communicated only by turning the camera on their eyes, that is perfect for the silent nature of the sniping scenes. I could have watched a whole movie dedicated to only these two marksmen. The sniping scenes are expertly handled, the background sets of war-torn Stalingrad are amazingly detailed and completely set the tone, and the tension and suspense of these scenes is high.
But, alas, ENEMY AT THE GATES does not simply decide to abandon an accurate portrayal of the battle for Stalingrad for a more focused piece on these two snipers. Instead, an infamous "love triangle" is introduced to the film to stir things up. I say "infamous" only because it seems to have ruined everyone's day if you read the reviews on this site. While I would agree that this "love triangle" is not the most interesting part of the film, I do think that it has some merit. For one thing, it provides Zeitsev with motivation towards the end of the film. In the beginning, he seems to have nothing to lose, fully aware that each day may be his last. He is fearless in his struggle against the Germans. But as he begins to fall in love with Tania Chernova (Rachel Weisz), suddenly he has something to lose. Furthermore, his love provides him ultimately with the confidence and determination to put an end to K?nig, who has been seemingly invincible up until that point.
The really interesting question, I think, is why not just have a love interest? Why involve a love triangle with Commisar Danilov? Here, I think that the film shines, at least in conception if not in execution. The love triangle provides Commisar Danilov with his ever-increasing menace towards Zaitsev. It makes him abuse his power and become the kind of evil man he once feared. This, in turn, only heightens our love of the protagonist, as his natural goodness is depicted side-by-side with the evil of his friend. One thing that kept occurring to me as I watched this film was the question: Who is the bad guy? Is it the Germans? Is it Major K?nig? Is it Danilov when he becomes enraged at his unrequited love for Tania? Is it Kruschev? Is it the Russian generals who shoot their own troops? It's hard to say! All that we know is that Vassili is good. Perhaps the filmmakers didn't want to glorify the Russians? The truth is that no one ends up very good in this film, besides our two lovers. War seems to bring out the worst in everyone, even Danilov. Perhaps that is what ENEMY AT THE GATES is trying to strive for with its inclusion of the love triangle. War is evil. And humans are only pawns in the game.
Ultimately, I enjoyed ENEMY AT THE GATES. In fact, I enjoyed it more the second time I watched it. You cannot really knock it for not being an accurate portrayal of the battle of Stalingrad. It is focused on two men in the middle of that battle. Every film must explore life's events through the eyes of a few characters. That's where the interest lies! Anything else would just be a third-person perspective on explosions and gunfire. While I wish the film could have focused even more on the sniping angle than it does, I believe it to be a respectable war film and one that is quite interesting.
- William Craig's Book on Stalingrad from 1973 brought to life
A central statue display of Children dancing around a Maypole with a Crocodile leering at them while buildings burn after the bombing of a railroad yard in Stalingrad. That was the picture on the original cover of the famous book produced by William Craig that this film used as a resource. It makes an impression immediately as to what nightmares this battle was all about and the film does deliver that impression just as well. I was haunted by the stories in Mr. Craig's book when I first became acquainted with the work in 1980. You can feel the atmosphere in this film. It is very Stalinist in the deep browns, blacks and fiery red of war. As Al Stewart said in his famous song "Roads to Moscow": "and the pale sun of October whispers the Snow will soon be coming..and I wonder when I'll be home again and the morning answers 'never' and the evening sighs and the steely russian skies go on ...forever". So you can imagine how I felt as I sat in the audience for the first showing of this movie. When it was over, the audience sat there...in stunned silence at what had been shown and no one left the theatre as the credits rolled to the end. It was as if everyone could not quite take in all that was given in this movie. It did not fail in trying to tell the personal tales that Craig spoke about, but it tended to center on a few individuals (real people, in most cases, but somewhat romanticized) yet, it does convey a certain sense of the misery of fighting in the city. The director made a few changes in the fates of individuals, added a political officer in the mix to good effect and generally did a good job. A few scenes from the original have been CUT. One in the meeting with Nikita K of political officers where one wets his pants and another when Ed Harris (as Maj. Konig, an Oscar worthy performance!) is sitting in the train and the camera focuses on terribly wounded Germans in another train, stacked like cattle ready to head in the opposite direction, staring at him in a luxurious train car alone is a bit longer before he pulls the curtain down so that he don't have to look at them. The film decends into a personal duel between Harris and Jude Law playing the hero Vassily Zaitzev, two snipers of note. The film misses on other heroes like General Vassili Chuikov or Colonel Ivan Lyudnikov, a division commander who defended the Barrikady factory against the German Pioneer unit. 15 year old Sacha Fillipov was indeed hanged for espionage, but this too was romanticized for effect. I have nothing against it. It is still an effective picture. Not perfect for a History scholar but the film produces the intended result. The truth is that most Americans were unaware of the Russian fight at Stalingrad, only Harrison Salisbury, a reporter for the NY Times, wrote and reported during the war about Soviet fighting that later made for effective books that he wrote as an afterthought. It is still good and makes for an entertaining semi-historical lesson....more info
- A Battle that was won by other means
[...]I watched the movie on TV recently without knowing beforehand whether the actual figures and plot were real or fictional.
The three central characters, two of whom at least were apparently real, make up the eternal triangle. The Russian sniper is the hero ( he was taught to shoot very accurately by his wolf-hunting grandfather: "put snow in your mouth so the wolf won't see your breath). He is made a hero by his would-be rival, the lovelorn Jewish Communist Party Commissar in charge of battle site propaganda. They are both in love with the lovely Jewish Soviet infantry heroine who plans to go and farm in Palestine if she survives the war.
The filmmakers, bending the truth, have made the sharp shooting activities of the particular hero a critical part of the whole Battle of Stalingrad. If the hero gets killed it will be a national tragedy, if not a disaster, For the Germans, if their sharpshooter is killed, who is shipped in from Berlin in a Pullman train specifically to wipe out the hero, it will be a humiliation. so much so the Nazi Major is told by General Paulus to remove his dog tags in case he falls. If you believe the film plot the duelling was apparently set up on purpose as part of the commissar's propaganda (I don't know if Danilov the commissar is real or fictional). Such a duel did take place but was probably not central to the Battle of Stalingrad (which was won in 1943 when the Russians surrounded the Germans who found themselves enclosed in the city and forced the whole army to surrender including the General). The victory is celebrated near the end of the film but it does not explain how the it came about, though no doubt the dogged resistance inside the city was very important.
The war action -particularly in the first half hour of the movie - is very graphic and exciting and more realistic than most war films. The romantic line , apparently real, between hero and heroine adds tone to what would otherwise be just another bang-bang movie for 100 minutes. I believe there is even a computer game based on the film that concentrates on the shooting gallery aspect. The film makers do successfully, if not entirely completely, put the Battle of Stalingrad in its perspective as arguably the turning in point in the European theatre of World War II, that drained Hitler's forces. But they do not explain that without the Russian victory at Stalingrad in 1943 the allied invasion of Normandy would have been impossible in 1944 and World War II would have been prolonged (assuming that America would have hesitated to us the atomic bomb it developed in 1945 against Europeans).
The action part of the movie is mainly focused on the Russian sharpshooter's duel with the elegant German sniper sent to cut him down. Action narrows from the opening mass battle scenes to a handful of Russian sharp shooters, who fall one by one to the cunning German ace and ends up with a one-on-one Western type gun duel. The sense of war is hell pervades the atmosphere of a ruined city in which fighting is from building to building. The Germans appear to have an air advantage and an ability to drop bombs with devastating impact but their tanks, confined by narrow alleys amid the ruins are not much help. I recently saw actual footage of the Battle in a German documentary on TV and the fountain featured early in the film also appears as it really was though not piled high with dead bodies. Not being a World War II expert I cannot quibble with the many minor historical mistakes that have been identified by purists but even if I were aware of them when I viewed the film it wouldn't have made much difference to my enjoyment. The cast all round is superb, especially the principal characters. My only complaint is the Hollywood type ending. The temporarily separated lovers meet in hospital before the final fade out In real life they both assumed each other were dead and didn't find the truth for many year afterwards. That would have been , in my opinion, a better ending than the fictional one contrived for no good reason by the filmmakers.Isn't it enough that both survived? Surely the assumption that American box offices need happy endings (if that was the reason for a dumb they lived happily ever after ending) is outdated?...more info
- Enemy at the Gates
Maybe oneof the best war movies ever made. This one has to be seen to appreciate what the Russian front at Stalingrad was like in WWII....more info
- good B movie
Its funny but I think I like this movie best for reasons that other people seem to dislike it. If I really wanted historical accuracy wouldn't I be watching a documentary? Personally I found this movie to be completely entertaining, and when I define entertaining I mean Not Boring, which I find more and more movies to be these days. Also, the Russian viewpoint of the film is at least a different take, not a volunteer army. In short with all the garbage movies out there, I fail to see how anyone could dare call this movie bad. It was at least good, if not great, and I personally think it still to be Jude Law's best role to date, if that's saying much, heh? ...more info
- A Great Movie
This is the first amazon movie review I have written, after reading many reviews for other movies for quite some time.
The criticisms I read about Enemy at the Gates are, by and large, correct! And, as a rule, I do not like war movies. So why on earth do I think this is a great movie?! I did happen to read the account of the sniper duel at the heart of the story, many years ago. (The story has been made more marketable, the love story is silly, but it is in essence truer to history than other much hyped movies...)
Well, the performances are great. The movie tells of a battle that was central to WWII.
I think I rate this movie so highly because it focuses on the brutal win or lose nature of total war. That's what it came down to. If the Russians lost they were going to be massacred en masse - that was Hitler's plan to make room for German expansion to the East. No 'earn this' like at the end of Private Ryan. WWII was about the life and death of vast numbers of civilians. The upbeat ending is bogus - yes I agree. But if you can just tune out those parts - this movie is like 'Paths of Glory' - it gets to the guts of war - either I kill you or you will kill me (and my family as well.)