So I was complaining on Twitter last week about how many war films (or films set during a war) are included in the AFI's 100 Years, 100 Films list. And yet here I am, voluntarily putting myself through another war film that's not even on the list. GO FIGURE. That said, I love this movie. It's brutal and it's bloody and it's painful to watch. But it's brilliant, and if I had to pick a favourite war film, I think this would be it.
Reasons why Enemy at the Gates is awesome:
1. Jude Law. He's astonishing.
3. Joseph Fiennes. His character is so ridiculously complex, and yet he handles every scene flawlessly.
4. The brutality of the arrival scene, right down to there being one gun and a handful of bullets for every two soldiers. (Okay, so the insufficient guns part is historically inaccurate. The shortage of ammunition, on the other hand........)
5. Rachel Weisz.
7. The music. It's beautiful, as it usually is with James Horner at the helm.
8. The juxtaposition between the German hospital train and Major König's insanely opulent train. It's like something out of The Hunger Games.
9. Ed Harris. His character is almost the polar opposite to Vassili's - he's cold and hard and withdrawn from what he's doing - but he still manages to seem human.
11. Female soldiers of BAMF-y proportions.
12. Bob Hoskins as Nikita Khrushchev.
13. The way some many scenes are done with almost no dialogue, relying on the actor's expressions instead.
16. The recognition that sometimes citizens who are stuck in the middle have to play for both sides, even if the outcome is sometimes horrific.
17. The evacuation scene, even if it leads to ugly crying.
18. The final scene in the train yards.
Plus, the following quotes:
- "It's a sign the Germans are starting to shit their pants!"
- "The whole country is looking at you."
- "Son of a bitch! These are new pants. I just took them off a captain from the 251st yesterday..."
- "I knew you weren't dead." "How?" "Because we've only just met."
- "You won't give up the river bank. I don't care if you lost half your men. Lose the other half. Lose yourself."
- "He isn't dead, and do you know why? Because I haven't killed him yet."
- "You've promised people a victory I can't deliver. I don't stand a chance against this man."
- "Sad to have a dream you know won't happen."
- "I've been such a fool, Vassili. Man will always be a man. There is no new man. We tried so hard to create a society that was equal, where there'd be nothing to envy your neighbour. But there's always something to envy. A smile, a friendship, something you don't have and want to appropriate. In this world, even a Soviet one, there will always be rich and poor. Rich in gifts, poor in gifts. Rich in love, poor in love."
- "A sniper who doesn't relocate isn't normal."
- "Do you know how to shoot?" "A little."
- "He doesn't know you exist. But at that moment you're closer to him than anyone else on earth, you see his face through the sign. You see whether he shaved or not. You can see whether he's married if he's got a wedding ring. It's not like firing at a distant shape. It's not just a uniform. It's a man's face. Those faces don't go away. They come back and they get replaced by more faces."
- "The one with the rifle shoots. The one without, follows him. When the one with the rifle gets killed, the one following picks up the rifle and shoots."
Have you seen it? What did you think?