Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Enemy at the Gates (2001)

Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud
Starring: Jude Law, Ed Harris, Joseph Fiennes

A shepherd from the Urals becomes a legendary sniper in the brutal battle for Stalingrad and then becomes the target of one of Germany's own top snipers.

You don't see many movies in American cinema about the Eastern Front. War is hell regardless of the venue, but this film really sells the grimy, bloody miserable ruins of Stalingrad. Curiously, the actual Russians and Germans in the cast are few and the Russians are played off as British, which makes for some bizarre dissonance. The performances are solid. I want to give special note to Ed Harris as the German sniper Major König, Bob Hoskins as Nikita Khrushchev, and Ron Perlman as the elder sniper Koulikov.

There's a strong sense of despair, with the Germans in front and the Soviet enforcers behind the hapless Russian soldiers. The twin evils show that whichever side wins, everyone loses. The shadow of Stalin and his agents hover over everything. The common Russians like the protagonist have to muddle through as best they can.

If the Eastern Front, snipers and such interest you, this is a movie worth seeing.

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