Jude Law, Joseph Finnes, Rachel Weisz, Ed Harris
Enemy at the Gates is the retelling of a Russian soldier
who is promoted into the sniper division after surviving the
initial onslaught on Stalingrad by the German army during
W.W.II. After the initial onslaught, the soon-to-be sniper
(Law) finds himself alongside a "propagandist officer" (Finnes)
who witnesses as he shoots down five soldiers with apparent
ease. From this point, Finnes manages to spread the news of
this act of heroism and catches the ear of Krushchev, who
promotes this hero. While Finnes continues to spread the news
of Law's sniping tales, the Germans send a sniper of their
own (Harris) to remove this man who is killing their officers
on such a regular basis.
First of all, I'd like to state that it is refreshing to
see a W.W.II movie that doesn't involve the Americans for
once. Enemy at the Gates could easily be seen as the Russian's
Saving Private Ryan. The sets are a shamble of debris and
dead bodies and the actors are painstakingly dirty and unclean
from months of action. The settings are dark and grey, often
splattered with red.
Both Law and Finnes perform excellently in their respective
parts. Law plays the unassuming hero who wants nothing more
than to work in a factory rather than be a war hero, while
Finnes is excellent at the propagandist who uses his friend
to bolster the war movement.
Great lengths have been taken to represent the mindset of
the Communist/Socialist ideals during the war. In Saving Private
Ryan, men charged up the French shores only to be mowed down
while trying to heroically press any advantage they might
have. In Enemy at the Gates, Russian troops are trucked in
by train, told that they only have one gun per two men and
then forced by gunpoint to rush headlong to their deaths.
Anyone who retreated was mowed down by their own officers.
The only thing that I feel this movie could have done without
was the love affair between Law and Weisz, which comes across
as added on and predictable. Without this, the movie could
have easily come in at just over two hours, while still focusing
on the intense, intelligent sniper duel between the two men.
Still, Enemy at the Gates is a fine movie that shows us a
different side of the war. There's as much political commentary
as there is human interaction in this finely created film.