Enemy at the Gates Review and Blu-ray Features
Enemy at the Gates
16 Mar 2001
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Casting of the main lead
Jude Law and Ed Harris were cast largely on the expressiveness of their eyes. They were frequently called to convey emotion without saying a word.
Enemy At The Gates comes off as being somewhat fantastic due to its attempt to balance entertainment with historical fact. An extrordinary work of raw skill and imagination.
It came as a surprise to me to learn that Sergeant Vassili Zaitsev was a real person (whose sniper rifle is still an exhibit in a Russian museum), but this makes it all the more entertaining to watch.
Battle of Stalingard
A lot of historians have it that the battle of Stalingrad was the most unpleasant one fought during the second World War, and this film’s set design and cinematography capture that impeccably. When the Russians are battling the Nazis, you get the idea that if the Nazis didn’t kill them, malnutrition, tetanus, scurvy, bubonic plague, or a million other things would.
Performance of Main Leads
Jude Law and Joseph Fiennes lend authenticity to their roles that makes it even easier to follow them on their personal journey through hell, and Ed Harris is scarily convincing as a high-ranking Nazi.
The real surprise here, however, is Rachel Weisz as Sergeant Tania Chernova, and the very heart and soul of the film. When she describes the reasons why she decided to take up a gun and battle the Germans, it all makes so much sense that you just want to buy the poor girl a beer and give her a good warm embrace. Not that such things would erase the scars that her character bears, but one would feel obligated to try
Major Konig, played by Ed Harris, can be seen wearing gloves with the index finger and thumb on its right hand removed. This was quite common for snipers in cold conditions as it helped prevent frostbite in the hand, while allowing them to make delicate changes to their weapon and ensuring a smooth trigger squeeze.
Huge Set Built
The large set of Stalingrad had to be built from scratch in Germany
“Enemy at the Gate”
“Enemy at the Gate” was the call for resistance in 1941 when the Nazis besieged Leningrad (now St. Petersburg, Russia). Leningrad resistance stopped the Nazis, and the words “Enemy at the Gate” became a call for anti-Nazi resistance everywhere. Same words are used in the book “Enemy at the Gate: The Battle for Stalingrad” (1973) by William Craig, which also documents the real-life war exploits of Vasilli Zaitsev.
No Happy Reunion
Unfortunately, in real life, there was no happy reunion for Vassili and Tania: by the battle’s end, each thought the other dead, and Tania learned years later that not only was her lover still alive, but had recently married. Or at least, so she claimed. According to Vassili, they were never lovers, and in fact, he was never in any relationships during the war.
RT/Meta Critic Review
Tense and violent WWII movie.(Click here to see)
I was unaware that this film was based loosely on real soldiers, I had an idea it was close to reality but didn’t realise the main characters were real, well Law’s character. The film is woven into the intense Battle of Stalingrad and is solely about the duel between one Russian sniper and one German sniper.(Phil Hubbs)
Enemy at the Gates lines up in the Blu-ray crosshairs and reveals a picture that does not quite excite the visual senses. This 1080p, 2.35:1-framed image takes on a dull, drab, lifeless appearance, reflecting the cold, harsh, smoky, and decaying Stalingrad that populates every frame of the film. At times, the film seems almost colorless, only the brown stocks of the rifles or the dull green uniforms standing out from the black and gray rubble and smoke that has overtaken the city. It should come as no surprise that the finest of details are hard to come by, particularly in those outdoor shots covered in smoke and generally bleak imagery. Some objects — wool-lined jackets, the lines in the wood on the rifle stocks, facial hair growth, or the remnants of a brick wall — reveal adequate textures and visible nuances that enhance the realism of the picture, but never does any one object stand out to truly wow viewers. The image often appears rather clean with minimal grain but displays the occasional bout of noise or dirt. Black levels are sufficient and flesh tones take on an appropriately cold, lifeless appearance that matches up with the overall look of the film. Enemy at the Gates offers a rather flat-appearing image at best, but considering the many challenges facing the visuals, this disc seems to replicate the intended look nicely enough.
Enemy at the Gates shells Blu-ray with a somewhat lackluster Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Gunshots lack that crisp oomph and zip, and explosions don’t provide the heft and deep thumps one might expect of them. The action sequences fall a bit flat, with not much in the way of immersion or foundation-shaking bass. Sound effects spread out nicely across the front, but the rear channels offer little in the way of discernible support. Generally subtle ambience is heard nicely here and there, for example machine gun fire and explosions off in the distance, most coming out of the front speakers, and sometimes elevated in volume when shells land closer to the action. Sometimes, these distant explosions, and those closer to the action in particular, surpass in the level of hefty bass those happening in the middle of the frame. The film’s final major battle scenes offer up the most heft and power, with the explosions playing to good volume but still not rattling the floorboards. Music and dialogue are both delivered crisply and efficiently. While a solid soundtrack, this one ultimately underwhelms in its effort bring the action to vivid life.
Enemy at the Gates arrives on Blu-ray with only a few extras. Through the Crosshairs (480p, 19:36) plays as a very basic making-of piece where cast and crew recount the plot, discuss the characters, speak of the themes, and recount the history of the battle itself. Inside ‘Enemy at the Gates’ (480p, 15:01) features cast and crew discussing their preparations for the roles, including learning the history of the battle and firing their weapons. They also speak further on the themes, the making of the film, casting, working together, their favorite scenes, and more. Concluding this brief presentation of extras is a collection of nine deleted scenes (480p, 10:13) and the film’s theatrical trailer (1080p, 2:28).