Enemy at the Gates

Peter Bradshaw: It's entertaining stuff, let down, I'm afraid, by the often uncertain English dialogue.

Three rousing cheers for our gallant ally Marshal Stalin, who by putting up such a terribly good show on the Eastern Front, distracted Hitler from Operation Sealion - the invasion of Britain - which might have ended with the installation of the Duke of Windsor as our very own Pétain. At my school, this was the tacit gist of history lessons about the battle of Stalingrad. Whether or not that precise conclusion is fair, the undeniable link between this horrifying struggle and the status of our own island makes any airing of it important.

For what it's worth, Jean-Jacques Annaud's ambitious epic is a big old- fashioned war movie with impressive battle set-pieces. It tells the story of Vassili Zaitsev, an unbelievably good-looking Russian sniper played by Jude Law, who falls in love with the extraordinarily beautiful female soldier Tania (Rachel Weisz), while being eulogised by the unfeasibly handsome Soviet political officer Joseph Fiennes for his thrilling duel with a slightly less pert German sniper Major Konig (Ed Harris).

It's entertaining stuff, let down, I'm afraid, by the often uncertain English dialogue written by Annaud and Alain Godard, and by the director making Law play the humbly-born Zaitsev with a dodgy Mockney accent that comes and goes - this evidently considered the equivalent of a peasant's accent from the Urals.


Peter Bradshaw

The GuardianTramp

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