Enemy at the Gates
Jude Law, Joseph Finnes, Rachel Weisz, Ed Harris
Directed By:
Jean-Jacques Annaud

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.

- - Kinderfeld

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