Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Enemy at the Gates is a spectacular war movie that recounts the 1942-43 (World War II) Battle of Stalingrad. The movie depicts a fact-based account of one of the 20th-century wars in which the might of Hitler’s army was finally defeated by Russians in Stalingrad – the city in the European part of Russia on the Volga.
It is one of the hard-fought days of 1942 when Germans were invading the heart of the Soviet Union, including one of the last few remaining obstacles Stalingrad. Russians were outnumbered by Germans both in manpower and weaponry.
There was no way for any victory for the Russians when an ambitious commanding officer, Nikita Krushchev (Bob Hoskins) fears that if the Germans captures the city, the entire country will collapse as it was more than just a city; it’s a symbol of Russian strength. Hence, he asks for ideas on how to build the morale and confidence of his soldiers.
A young Russian political officer Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) suggests to “give them hope” by explaining that there is another way to defeat Germany by raising the way of courage, the way of the love for the motherland. He suggests publishing the stories of sacrifice and bravery in the army newspaper to give the soldiers hope, pride, and desire to fight.
Here Danilov introduces Vassily Zaitsev (Jude Law), who is a sharpshooter and dared to kill five Germans, each with a single shot. Danilov’s propaganda pushes Vassily to the sniper division of the Russian army and within days, he becomes a legend created by the media.
However, a master German sniper, Major Koenig (Ed Harris) is determined to kill Vassily. With unmatched skills, they both develop traps for each other until the day when they have to come face to face. Enemy at the Gates is a classic story on how a single man or a hero boosts morale in the dwindling Russian army. It’s a bold and daring piece of filmmaking with spectacular cinematography.
Starring: Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins, Ed Harris and Ron Perlman
Direction: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Based on Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad by William Craig
Cinematography: Robert Fraisse
Music by James Horner
Release Date: March 16, 2001