Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Enemy at the Gates

I love the cast in this deplorable and unfortunate film: Joseph Fiennes, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Ed Harris, Bob Hoskins.... What's not to like? Well, imagine Rambo Meets The Hallmark Hall of Fame or an Eastern Front version of Atonement.

Rare it is that a film can have such great potential and completely blow it. It's hard to say what did this film in: the cinematography was very good, the cast good, the aesthetic vibe of Stalingrad was there. Terrible things included:
* political commentary: yes, we know the Soviet system sucked but boring and bloodless political speeches at inappropriate times does not move the story.
* unlikely romance: sure, we want the lonesome, hickish sniper to get the girl, but is it likely?
* stereotyping of Germans and a complete under-utilization of Ed Harris' range in the film (no pun intended)
* stereotyping of Russians and an under-appreciation for the role that vodka played in the defence of Stalingrad (a sober look at history will confirm what I'm saying...)