film reviews archive
BY Ralph MacGregor
at the Gates (15)
Starring: Joseph Fiennes, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz
TENSE MOMENTS: Jude Law and Rachel Weisz in the thriller Enemy
at the Gates.
history, the bleakest of times bring to light the greatest and worst
of the human race.
stories have regularly been adapted for the silver screen,
with Enemy at the Gates (15) the latest tale of heroism in a dark
in Stalingrad during the Nazi onslaught within Russia, a political
officer called Danilov (Joseph Fiennes) witnesses a soldiers
display of fine marksmanship and is himself saved from a Nazi soldier.
to retell the story in its most poetic form, Danilov instigates
a paper to bolster morale, creating the legend of Vassily Zaitsev
sniping skill becomes the talk of Russia, and a thorn in the side
of the Third Reich. As his fame and kill count grows, the Germans
decide Zaitsev has crossed the line between affordable pain and
Nazis dispatch Major Koenig, their own unparalleled marksman, with
the mission of finding and eliminating Zaitsev. The story has obviously
been enhanced for the pleasure of the viewing public, with a love
interest played by Rachel Weisz and plenty of grand photography
of Russia and its defiant stance to the invasion.
unlike many Second World War films, this movie does not set about
casting the Germans as bad oppressors and the Russians as defiant
Allies. The tale is a much more personal one of Zaitsev and Koenigs
cat and mouse chase through the rubble of the city as one tries
to predict the others movements.
script is well thought out and develops both snipers as honourable
men with human weaknesses. They have both chosen the side they fight
for and must now stick to it, despite personal fears.
ambience of the film is very dark, with the grim reality of war
coming across from the start. A war does have winners and losers
but, generally, a battlefield has many more losers on both sides.
footage depicts this train of thought and will probably not suit
those with a weak disposition. Overall, the movie is a classic tale
of war romance and humanity, and with no real new twists it still
manages to entertain.