Projections - Movie Reviews

Enemy at the Gates

Enemy at the Gates

This World War II film, based on actual events, is a superb story of the hunter who becomes the hunted.

During the September 1942 German invasion of Stalingrad, Russians are massacred and demoralized.  The military leaders are called on the carpet by Nikita Khrushchev (played by Bob Haskins, who closely resembles him).  Instead of punishing soldiers for their defeat, Danilov (Joseph Fiennes), a political officer, suggests that the men need hope and a hero to look up to.

He begins printing leaflets with stories of a heroic soldier named Vassili (Jude Law).  After seeing Vassili shoot a number of Germans in quick succession, Danilov makes Vassili into a super soldier model with his daily writings.

Vassili, heads a team of snipers, who target German officers, and the ploy pays off by weakening the Third Reich's stranglehold.  So much so, that a sniper is dispatched from the German side, an aristocrat (Ed Harris) with enormous patience.  Each man plants himself into the mud or hides among the rubble of bombed out buildings to wait until his intended prey shows up.

The settings, made up of building shells with gaping holes and hanging pipes large enough to crawl through, all add exciting dimensions  to the cat and mouse game.   In one of the most devastating scenes, a soldier has to slither beneath a dead body, to hide himself from the enemy.

Law brings a believable mix of naiveté and confidence to his shepherd character, and Harris is a powerful adversary, all steely-eyed and calm.  Marvelous acting talent makes a great story, all the better.

 
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Enemy at the Gates
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