Enemy At The Gates

Enemy At The Gates


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The siege of Stalingrad in 1942 became the pivotal battle of the war in the east. The Russians held the city against superior forces, when food and ammunition had virtually given out. Some day a movie will be made to bear witness to their superhuman courage.

This is not it.

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Despite a flashy Private Ryan-style intro, as reinforcements are dive bombed in their landing craft, artistically compensated with layers of computer generated action, there is no sense of what is going on in the city.

Under-equipped soldiers from the home team attack a heavily fortified enemy position, much in the manner of going over the top in the First World War, and are cut to pieces by machine gun fire. When they attempt to retreat to safer ground, they are shot by their own officers.

That's it. That's the battle for Stalingrad. The rest is a banal love triangle and a game of cat-and-mouse, resembling scenes from a Western, as gun fighters stalk each other in the debris of a wrecked factory.

Jude Law does his best to look like a peasant from the Urals, who has one talent, taught to him by his grandfather. He can shoot straight.

Joseph Fiennes is a writer, a propagandist, an officer of some sort, who churns out news stories to boost morale. He builds Law up as a hero of the people, the sniper king of the city that will not die.

Rachel Weisz is the impossibly beautiful daughter of murdered Jews, who is brave and good and sexy and clever. Both men fancy her rotten, naturally.

Ed Harris plays the German major, sent from Berlin to eliminate Law, because he has become too much the symbol of a defiant nation. He is the strong, silent type. If he was taller, he would be Clint Eastwood.

What starts as a large scale war movie, with a small country's army as extras, ends with two blue-eyed blokes creeping about, taking pot shots at each other.

Reviewed on: 30 Mar 2001
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Snipers play cat and mouse during the battle of Stalingrad.
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Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud

Writer: Alain Godard, Jean-Jacques Annaud

Starring: Jude Law, Ed Harris, Rachel Weisz, Joseph Fiennes, Bob Hoskins, Ron Perlman, Eva Mattes, Gabriel Thomson, Matthias Habich, Sophie Rois, Ivan Shvedoff

Year: 2000

Runtime: 131 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Germany USA


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