Volume 94, Issue 95

Wednesday, March 21, 2001


Play proves that blood is thicker than mud

A masterful look at World War II

Seagal meets expectations

The human side of the homeless

Buried Treasure

A masterful look at World War II

Enemy at the Gates

Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Jude Law, Bob Hoskins
Directed By: Jean-Jacques Annaud

By Cara Moroney
Gazette Staff

The latest in a long string of World War II epics, Enemy at the Gates has a couple of problems that take away from its achievement.

First, the movie was pushed back from its original release date of November 2000, thus missing any chance at this year's Academy Awards. Also, after such films as The Thin Red Line and Saving Private Ryan, this film may have missed the boat.

Enemy at the Gates actually rises above its recent predecessors; it's more exciting and suspenseful than The Thin Red Line and more complex in terms of story and character development than Saving Private Ryan.

The movie effectively captures the horror of war and the expansiveness of the destruction by personalizing the story and characters. Based on a true story, the film depicts two snipers, one of which is the German Major Konig (Ed Harris), who hunts Russian Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law) during the battle of Stalingrad in 1942.

The film recreates the grand spectacle of a city, Stalingrad, completely destroyed by war, reminding viewers that beneath mass destruction there are many individual stories. This contrast is part of what makes the film so compelling.

As the plot unfolds and the characters develop, the audience begins to hope Vassili is victorious and bests his pursuer. Throughout Enemy At The Gates, there are great sacrifices and heroic acts portrayed by different characters, displaying another dimension of an ugly war.

The different stylistic elements of this film work well together, but the cinematography is especially strong. The wide-angle shots showing the destruction of the city are well-matched with point-of-view shots seen through the snipers' rifles – providing a clever visual counterpoint.

All the performances are solid, but in particular, Bob Hoskins is notable as Russian dictator Khrushchev. The romance between Vassili and Tania (Rachel Weisz) adds yet another facet to this human story set in the most inhuman of situations.

The only downside with this group of talented actors is their failure to produce the requisite accents which would have added to the already exceptional realism of the film. It's a minor point, but in a film about minor details, it would have been effective. Still, it is a film definitely worth experiencing.

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