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Combat - WWII

Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Duration2h 11m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: R, Spain: 13 
Source of storyInspired by the 1973 book “Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad” by William Craig.
DirectorJean-Jacques Annaud
Writers/ScriptJean-Jacques Annaud, Alain Godard
StarringJude Law, Ed Harris, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins, Ron Perlman, Gabriel Thomson, Joseph Fiennes
RatingsIMDb: 7.6/10 by 253,533 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 53% by 139 reviewers.  Review2view 8/10..

Elevator Pitch: The Russians throw manpower at the Germans who are trying to take over Stalingrad in 1942. Soldiers go over the top into a hail of machine gun fire some armed with a rifle, others with just the bullets. Vasily Zaitsev has bullets. When a car is blown up forcing him to the ground, next to the surviving driver, he is able to get hold of a rifle and load it, then kill the German soldiers who are attacking them. The driver, who turns out to be a commissar, later is given the task of creating a hero to give hope to the defenders. Vasily is the hero, now a sniper he kills German officers to the extent that they enrol a marksman from the German sniper school to take him on.

Content: There is one sexual event without any nudity, after all it’s very cold. The Russians drink and smoke a lot. The arrival of the new troops at the front is graphic and unpleasant as they are shot down but the enemy, and their own side. Many scenes as the snipers crawl about in the ruins of the city, sometimes pinned down by the opposition. A boy is used as a double agent, so that Vasily can find out where the German sniper is going to be. He is later hanged from a water crane in a goods yard, as the German tries to encourage Vasily to show himself.

A View: Vasily Zaitsev is a real Hero of the Soviet Union, but what actually happened in Stalingrad remains a bit mysterious. This hardly matters though, after all it’s a story, and a pretty good one. It is not a conventional sniper story, which for some reason I enjoy but the set pieces are jaw dropping. It is till well presented and worth seeing if you are an enthusiast for WWII movies. Possibly worth it even if you aren’t.

Here are a few films critiqued here involving snipers, American Sniper, Smokin’ Aces (yes really) and finally Jarhead, although our hero never gets to shoot anyone.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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