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It's the height of World War II and the Russians are about to lose Stalingrad to the invading Nazi army. After a bloody journey across the Volga, Vassily Zeitsev (Jude Law) - a Russian soldier with dead eye marksmanship - is one of the few survivors left in the hornet's nest. His exploits are noticed by political officer Danilov (Joseph Fiennes), and Vassilly is promoted as the perfect hero for the Russians, with flyers of his sharp-shooting heroics circulated to the Russians to help boost morale. Vassily's quick rise to folk-herodom attracts the attention of both a tough female soldier (Rachel Weisz) and an icy German sharpshooter (Ed Harris), who's ordered to hunt him down.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
It's understandable director Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Name of the Rose, Seven Years in Tibet) focused on a small, mostly true story set within the midst of an epic true one. Didn't Saving Private Ryan - its closest comparison - do the same? Enemy at the Gates (not to be confused with Enemy of the State) begins with Spielberg-like immersion-shock therapy approach to portraying combat, where young untrained troops are slaughtered just as soon as they land on the front line. The scenes are graphic and masterfully handled, as are the film's apocalyptic vision of a city ravaged by war and the taut cat-and-mouse sniper showdown that follows.

But Enemy fails to maintain its ground-level intensity, and fills the gaps between the chess game - which is said to hold the key to Stalingrad and thus the war - with a strained struggle with Fiennes for Weisz's affection. Bizarre love triangles aside, Enemy is a stultifying war film where bodies and hollowed buildings dot the landscape and explosions come from nowhere.

It's to be relished on DVD, with impressive image quality even during its many dark, smokey scenes. The battle sequences are an exceptional example of aggressive sound, which with Dolby Digital 5.1 has the shell-fire popping from all corners of the room and you ducking for cover. The Australian DVD lacks a few features of the US version, like Annaud's commentary and storyboards, and the nine deleted scenes lack the commentary to explain why they were cut. Two strikingly similar featurettes, "Inside Enemy at the Gates" and "Through the Crosshairs" offer just a touch more than the usual promotional material, like interviews with Annaud and his cast and details about the research and preparations that went into making the movie - Europe's most expensive at $80 million. A magnificent looking and sounding film enhanced by DVD but let down by minimal features, Enemy at the Gates reminds us of the battle that cost one million people their lives.

Published January 24, 2002

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CAST: Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Ed Harris, Joseph Fiennes, Bob Hoskins

DIRECTOR: Jean Jacques Annaud

RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes

Main Menu Introduction; Menu Animation & Audio; Dolby Digital Theatrical Trailer; Deleted Scenes; Featurette - Through The Crosshairs; Featurette - Inside Enemy At The Gates; Biographies - Cast & Crew; Widescreen 2.35:1, 16x9 Enhanced Langauge - English Dolby Digital 5.1 ; Subtitles - English for the Hearing Impaired

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: January 23, 2002

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