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4.4 out of 5 stars252
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on 11 November 2015
In one of the "special features" accompanying this DVD, the director Jean-Jacques Annaud talks of the fascination of the "rhythm" of a slow, intimate story (the sniper v. sniper slow dance) set against the world-historical, densely-populated, "action-oriented" story of the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-43, the battle in which the Red Army, taking horrific losses, managed to stop the eastward movement of Hitler's Nazi war machine. The movie actually starts with an old-fashioned visual device -- the map of Europe with the black stain of Nazism spreading out from Germany in all directions, until it comes, in the east, to the Volga . . . I liked that. It reminded me of old war movies I had enjoyed. And the "rhythm" idea is kind of neat too, although it's pretty much an aesthetic indulgence on Annaud's part -- for it isn't totally credible, for all of rhetoric of the Russian propagandist commissar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) and Nikita Khrushchev (Bob Hoskins), that victory at Stalingrad depends on the outcome of the sniper war between the Russian Vassily Zaitsev and the German master-sniper Konig (Ed Harris). One has to give some credit to the set-designers -- the ruined Stalingrad is well presented and at times spectacularly filmed, whether in its details or in the wider picture. But that's it -- for the film is hollow at the core: these cast members have done very good work in other movies, and they go at it like true professionals here, but they're given nothing to work on in terms of character. Such back-stories as we get are very sketchy, and it's as if they have no lives beyond the exigencies of the plot. The spicing up of a degree of rivalry between Danilov and Zaitsev, erstwhile friends, because of the presence of Rachel Weisz as a fetching woman soldier looks like a desperate attempt to inject "human interest," but it doesn't go anywhere except a rather stereotyped reconciliation near the end. Rachel Weisz is capable of really engaging characterization (like Harris and Hoskins), but she too is given little to work with. Hoskins's Khrushchev is a very broad caricature -- basically, "I've come to Stalingrad to kick ass, take names, and in so doing turn back the Nazis" -- and the timeworn contrast between the heroic common soldiers and the brutal officers is played out once again. I think we see more Russians killed by Russians than by Nazis. Even allowing for some truth to that, it seems over-the-top here, and one can understand why the Russians found the movie offensive. Just about all the close-up brutality in the movie is committed by them. In the German scenes, it's pretty much Ed Harris with his boss or alone. I see the movie as really wasting the talents of some good character-actors. Moment by moment, it isn't boring -- but when one reflects back on it, there's not much there.
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on 23 August 2012
**For UK buyers of the Blu Ray import with the red cover, this US disc is region free and works on UK Blu Ray players.**
I love this film and have seen it multiple times since it was released so long ago so I wanted to get it on blu ray with some urgency, and here it is, the quality is excellent, full 1080p with a razor sharp picture, a must have.
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on 2 September 2005
Aside from a very dodgy ariel shot in the film's opening battle sequence, the special effects here are so superbly implemented as to be seamless - it simply looks like the producers bombed a 1940s Russian City and took some cameras into the devastation. Only the later scenes in Polanski's 'The Pianist' match it for gritty, ambient realism. I cannot even put 'Saving Private Ryan' in the same class, since these dystopian, bombed-out landscapes are *vast* and hypnotising rather than episodic, and Stalingrad itself -as depicted by the producers- is a major character in the film.
On paper this film has the utterly compelling simplicity of a spaghetti western, with Jude Law's brave but talented farm-boy sniper and soviet hero pitched against Ed Harris's taciturn and masterly sniper, stringing out a long and complicated cat-and-mouse game among the astounding sights of Stalingrad in ruins. And, in fact, whatever criticism I have of the film, the premise and visual execution are simply so compelling as to outweigh them all.
That said, I wonder if the apparently French-speaking director was really able to elicit convincing performances from a first-rate cast...? I suspect a director with better English might have trashed and retaken a lot of the dialogue scenes that ended up in the final cut here. The delivery of the not-terrible dialogue is often hokey and stilted, and only the masterly Ed Harris seems to have a consistent handle on his character.
There is something pleasingly old-fashioned about this war-movie, and it seems as if it could have been made in the late 1960s high-budget war-movie revival, inasmuch as the accent is on strong story and character rather than tortuous and ambiguous issues of morality, which latter approach by no means hampered 'saving Private Ryan' (it was the poor execution of a worthwhile idea that did that).
The only grating modern intrusion is the uncomfortable grafting-on of a ***VERY*** weak love-triangle thread, but this seems to have been imposed on the film-makers by some focus-group obsessed, now-fired idiots in head office, and the director wisely makes as little of it as he possibly can without utterly cutting it out, which you get the feeling he would like to do. It was all pretty unnecessary since the three main characters are interesting enough to justify their screen-time without this cold contrivance.
On the 'love' note, the film contains an extraordinarily erotic love-scene between Rachel Weicz's and Jude Law's characters, which takes place in a full-to-capacity bombed-out doss-shelter, elbow to elbow with legions of weary, indifferent and half-asleep soldiers.
The absence of Americans or Brits from the character-cast, combined with there being no particular cultural axe to grind with the Russians as a race (at least while this film was being made), leaves the film-makers free of the onerous task of having to massage fragile American egos/sensibilities regarding WW2 - it's simply not an issue, as there isn't a Yank or a Limey in sight (until you check the actors playing the roles, that is), so the film is refreshingly free of xenophobia and condescension, particularly for an American-made war-film.
I must agree with another reviewer here who feared that the similar poster-campaigns for this film and the execrable 'Pearl Harbor' probably put a lot of people off seeing this; at the time 'Enemy At The Gates' was in cinemas, it put ME off - based on the advertising artwork, I was convinced it was from the same producers as 'Pearl Harbor'.
The 'accent problem' in war films and historical drama in general is a very old one, almost always solved -as in 'Gladiator'- by EVERYONE adopting an English accent (even the Americans actors). That is mostly the solution taken in 'Enemy', though with wildly varying results between the actors. However it was very good to see Bob Hoskins playing someone else besides Bob Hoskins, and really putting the effort into the voice-work, if not the accent - I guess he at least had tapes of Nikita Khrushchev to steer him away from either of his two accents, and he is a chilling presence in the film. Ron Perlman's accent also crosses the Atlantic-if not the equator- several times before he is put out of his misery - but he is otherwise excellent as ever, and all too briefly showcased here.
Rachel Weicz is as winsome as ever (and unusually touching), Jude Law alternating between hypnotising and hypnotised and Joseph Fiennes - well, he showed up on set and knew his lines most of the time, so lets be generous here. Like Mark Wahlberg, he always looks to me like the otherwise-unemployable nephew of one of the film's financiers, but even he has his moments here, particularly his last ones of the film.
This is a film I would love to have seen Kubrick make, particularly in the 1960s, though it would perhaps have been unbearably dark.
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on 14 May 2015
I really enjoyed Enemy At The Gates On blu ray as the captured the WW2 German invasion in Russia really well. The Russians are desperate to get the people to fight and not lose Stalingrad city at any cost. They need a hero so they get one and his name is Vassili Zaitzev played by Jude Law. He is a sniper who learned everything from his granddad. He becomes the peoples hero and challenges the Germans with his sniping skills. The Russians fight hard and things get more serious as the Germans bring in a Sniper Specialist them selves Major Konig played by Ed Harris. Some other great actors star in this movie too such as Joseph Fiennes who plays as Danilov A political officer and Rachel Weisz that plays as Tania.The story becomes complicated as both guys fall in love with Tania. The story gets better so I wont spoil it any more for anyone. Now the blu ray picture quality: The facial detail is great but the movie has a lot of grain especially in darker scenes. Nothing that you will make you not watch it just something obvious. As I said before the Facial detail and sound are really good. Overall is a great movie that definitely should be bought. Its a very well done movie and you will enjoy it. For the price you cant go wrong. For guys in the UK this blu ray will work on your machines with no problems. Great seller and fast delivery from the US. Thank You.
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on 8 December 2001
I first saw this film at the cinema and was blown away by the quality of the performances, the storyline and the amazing reality of the sets.
The film is set during the battle for Stalingrad in the winter of 1942, and as with all good war films has a very personal story line set in the midst of this massive confrontation. There are several fine performances from key British actors, especially from Jude Law in the main role of Soviet Sniper - Vassili Zeitsev.
I especially enjoyed the lack of American or British armed forces involvement, as films such as Pearl Harbour and Saving Private Ryan have taken much away from the massive contribution the Russians gave to the World War II effort.
I was keen to purchase the DVD as soon as it was made available, and I would recommend this as a worthy addition to any film collection.
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on 1 May 2015
If you like a movie set in a dark and dank atmosphere then this is a movie for you. It depressed me watching this movie right from the start to the point where it became background noise as I worked on my laptop.
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on 17 April 2016
Now this is one of the best films I have ever seen, a real terrific film. It's very atmospheric, and personally I could watch it over and over again, i'd give it ten stars if I could, it was that good
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on 22 October 2001
A good film, that sums up Enemy at the Gates. War is hell, and that is what this film shows without the need for a over the top story that Private ryan used.
Jude Law is at his usual best, and like all the characters in this film, is believable. Based on a true story, two snipers (Jude Law with the Russians) and Ed Harris (German) play a game of propoganda cat and mouse, who is the best?
This film is also non-patriotic to either side which is a much needed relief from the biased U-571, Thin Red Line and Private Ryan.
Its not the most succesful War film but the best films rarely are.
watch it and enjoy.
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on 26 January 2015
A great film, one of my all time favorite war films I spent a long time waiting for an EU/UK wide release onto blu-ray but it never came. It's not the greatest transfer to HD ever but it does the film justice. Don't expect too many extra features, there's some extra scenes and mini-documentaries but that's about it. The case it comes in is slimmer than your regular blu-ray case, so bear that in mind if you like you collection of films to look 'just so' on the shelf.
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on 7 April 2015
saw this some years ago and promised I would buy it one day. opening scenes very realistic and brings it home to you. tense throughout without overdoing it. good plot. if you have an impression of ww2 Stalingrad then this will fit. quality casting never overplayed and plot stays rigid without ever getting stuck or boring. highly highly recommended
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