The opening scenes, especially on the young Red Army soldiers cross the Volga river into the battlefield, were both realistic and visually stunning; which painted a gruesome and grandiose picture of all the books I have read regarding the battle of Stalingrad. Another strength about the movie is that it showed the tremendous sacrifice and suffering of Russian soldiers who fought on despite tremendous casualty from German fire and NKVD (Soviet State Security forces) executions.
I think this film has brilliantly captured the fact that however much the Soviet press in WWII played up the propaganda about personal heroism during the war, the authorities had a total lack of respect for individual lives. According to Antony Beevor's book on Stalingrad, Chuikov, the commander of the Red Army in Stalingrad that disappointingly did not show up in this film, was quoted as saying "Every man must become one of the stones defending Stalingrad." Perhaps the real horror of the battle of Stalingrad was that Russian soldiers were used as discardable weapons in order to defeat the enemy, which utimately saved the world from Nazi domination.
The cinematography of the duel between two snipers (Ed Harris and Jude Law) was very good, but I believe too much time was spent on this theme. I did not care for the love story that kind of got stuffed into the movie perhaps to soften up the hard edges of battle. As a war movie, "Eenmy at the Gates" have some obvious weak spots. However, overall I am just very happy to see a well-produced movie on one of the most decisive battles of the Eastern Front, and hope that more films will be made regarding this subject in the future.
BUY AT BARNES & NOBLE