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Enemy at the Gates

Essay by review  •  September 13, 2010  •  Essay  •  800 Words (4 Pages)  •  853 Views

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Enemy at the Gates, a film with intense violence and man's inhumanity to man, tells the story of the triumph of love and friendship set amidst the brutality of World War II Stalingrad.

It is the winter of 1942, and a desperate, poorly equipped and demoralized Russian army faces the possibility of crushing defeat by the might of the German blitzkrieg. A young naпve soldier from the Urals, Vassily Zaitsev, arrives in Stalingrad where he is thrust into battle amid the needless slaughter of his fellow soldiers be the Germans and his own troops. To his shock, he is not given a rifle to use during the attack. Instead, the men are paired together and one is given a rifle while the other is given extra ammunition. Vassily survives the first fierce assault and finds himself side-by-side with the political officer, Danilov. They are trapped among the bodies of fallen Russian soldiers behind the lines, and Vassily's talent as a sniper, homed to perfection from a childhood spent hunting wolves with his grandfather, is realized by Danilov when Vassily calmly and methodically kills five German soldiers. Returning to the relative safety of Russian controlled sector in the city, Danilov, a writer, glorifies Vassily's exploits in a newspaper article.

So begins the unlikely friendship between the highly educated political officer Danilov and the barely literate Private Vassily Zaitsev.

Vassily is then elevated to the status of hero when Danilov suggests to an angry and demanding Nikita Kruschev that instead of motivating the soldiers with terror and fear of losing their lives, they be given a hero to emulate. So begins a campaign of Soviet snipers methodically decimating the ranks of the invaders. The Germans counter by bringing in the elite Commander of the German Sniper Corp, Major Konig. A battle begins between these two as both struggle to win the hearts and minds of each man's Army by hunting the other man down.

During a chance encounter, Danilov and Vassily meet the beautiful and educated Tanya, a soldier in the Stalingrad home defense campaign. They both fall in love with Tanya. In an attempt to win Tanya's love, Danilov offers Tanya a safer position within the military, however, she prefers to fight with a rifle in her hand and looks to Vassily as a hero worthy of praise. His shy uncertainty and obvious discomfort in her presence only serve to intensify their feelings for each other.

When Danilov learns of Tanya's love for Vassily instead of him, his jealousy prompts him to send Vassily into evermore dangerous and desperate situations. However, the love between Tanya and Vassily grows ever stronger even as they are trapped under fire from Major Konig's rifle and Vassily's loyalty to his friend Danilov never wavers.

Despair sets in when

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