Enemy at the Gates

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Enemy at the Gates is a 2001 war film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, starring Jude Law and Ed Harris set during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II.

The film's title is taken from William Craig's 1973 nonfiction book Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad, which describes the events surrounding the Battle of Stalingrad from 1942 to 1943. It is based on a duel mentioned in the book that developed between Soviet sniper Vasily Zaytsev and his rival, Major Erwin König, as they stalk each other during the battle. The movie is also partially based on the book War of the Rats. The film was released under the title Stalingrad in continental Europe, although Enemy at the Gates is printed in smaller lettering underneath the main title on the box of the DVD release.

Vassili Zaitsev[edit]

  • (first lines of the film) I am a stone. I do not move.
  • 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 sight. 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.

Major Erwin König[edit]

  • [After giving his ID tag and Knight's Cross to General Paulus] Please also take this War Merit Cross. It was awarded posthumously to a lieutenant of the 116th Infantry Division who was killed here during the first days of the battle. He was my son.
  • [On rumors of Vassili's death] Don't listen to them. It's just propaganda. He isn't dead. And do you know why? Because I haven't killed him yet.
  • [The morning after König escapes a trap set for him by information he now knows Sacha gave the Soviets, König is waiting for Sacha as he crawls out of a pipe in the tractor factory] Good morning, Sacha. [Outside, pulling Sacha along] Once again, he knew exactly where to find me. Don't you think that's strange? Apart from me, only you knew. I don't hold it against you, Sacha. You've done a very brave thing. You've chosen your camp; I respect that. But it isn't my camp. We're both soldiers. We're both enemies. So, I... I know you understand. I'm annoyed with you, little Sacha, for not staying at home as I made you swear to do. I'm annoyed with you for obliging me to do what I'm going to have to do. [The camera pans away slightly; König is leading Sacha to a makeshift gallows]


  • I've been such a fool, Vassili. Man will always be 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.

Nikita Khrushchev[edit]

  • (to Danilov, after unconfirmed reports come in of Vassili's death) Write it then, "Vassili Zaitsev is not dead! This, is what he had for breakfast this morning. This, is a picture of him reading the paper." You're the poet.


I want our boys, to raise their heads. I want them to act like they have BALLS! I want them to stop SHITTING THEIR PANTS!
Do you know any heroes around here?
Yes, comrade. I know one.
Red Army General : I carried out my orders. I sent in all of my boys. But the Germans engulfed us. They have artillery, aircraft, tanks. And me, what did I have?!
Khrushchev: A sacred duty to resist! I have to report to the Boss. [puts a pistol on the table] Perhaps you'd prefer to avoid the red tape.
[Khrushchev walks out of the room to address political officers. There is a gunshot, then he begins.]
Krushchev: My name... is Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev. I've come to takes things in hand here. This city... is not Kursk, nor is it Kiev, nor Minsk. This city... is Stalingrad. Stalin-grad! The city bears the name of the Boss. It's more than a city, it's a symbol. If the Germans capture this city, the entire country will collapse. Now, I want our boys to raise their heads. I want them to act like they have BALLS! I want them to stop SHITTING THEIR PANTS! [briefly pauses] That's your job. As political officers, I'm counting on you. [stops at one] You, what's your suggestion?
Officer #1: Shoot all the other generals who have retreated. And their chiefs of staff, too.
[Khruschev looks at another.]
Officer #2: M-make s-some examples. D-d-d-d-d-de-port the families of the d-d-deserters...
Khrushchev: [bored] Yes, yes, that's all been done.
Danilov: Give them hope!
[Kruschev walks over and looks at the officer standing in the front, who motions with his eyes toward Danilov.]
Danilov: Here the men's only choice is between German bullets and ours. But there's another way, the way of courage, the way of love of the Motherland. We must publish the army newspaper again. We must tell magnificent stories, stories that extol sacrifice, bravery. We must give them hope, pride, a desire to fight. We must make them believe in the victory. Yes, we need to make examples; but examples to follow. What we need... are heroes.
Khrushchev: [looks around, wryly] Do you know any heroes around here?
Danilov: Yes, Comrade. I know one.

This city is no more than a heap of ruins... But the Führer's persisting.
I'll fix it so that he's the one who finds me.
[Erwin König arrives at General Paulus' headquarters and meets him]
Paulus: I was expecting someone else. Certainly not someone so prestigious. I imagine you have your reasons for getting yourself involved in this hellish situation. My army is not designed for this kind of fighting. Yesterday, yet again, I had to promote 25 sergeants to replace the officers shot down by their sharpshooters. Those snipers are demoralizing my people. [shows König a photo of the city] This city is no more than a heap of ruins. But the Führer's persisting. He has made it a personal matter between Stalin and himself. We should trust the Führer's instinct. He always managed to lead us to victory. We shall be back home for Christmas. [indicating Zaytsev] How are you going to go about finding this young Russian?
König: I'll fix it so that he's the one who finds me.

[Vassili Zaitsev tries to write a letter to a a group of coal miners who wanted to dedicate their mine in his honor]
Vassili: Shouldn't we try and make the point that I'm not the only one fighting?
Danilov: [dictates thoughts for Vassili to write] That's an excellent idea. We can take it even further though. Your battle for the production of coal is as worthy as mine. There's no 'k' in coal. Just one 'l'. Tell me if I'm going too fast.
Vassili: No, you're not going too fast. Is there any other improvements?
Mrs Filipov: Why don't you get some rest? These letters can wait until tomorrow.
Vassili: We should carry on. We're not tired. Thank you, Mrs Filipov. These people took the trouble to write to us. Tomorrow we might not be around to write back.

[After Sacha has left Danilov's headquarters; he is acting as a double agent, risking direct contact with Koenig behind German lines as an aide]
Vassili: Danilov. You had NO RIGHT to use him!
Danilov: Oh, no, no, I didn't. He... did it of his own accord. You know why? Because he BELIEVES IN YOU!

Danilov: You have to leave now, Mrs. Filipov- Stalingrad may fall! The last of the boats are leaving, the boats will be here any moment!
Tania: He's brought you a pass. You have to gather your things and then we'll help you carry them to the landing.
Mrs. Filipov: I'm not leaving. This is my home. This is my Sacha's home. I can't leave!
Danilov: I have to tell you something, Mrs. Filipov... something very difficult to understand. It's about Sacha.
[Tania and Danilov both hesitate, trying to find an explanation- Sacha has been hung by Koenig.]
Danilov: Sacha has gone over to the Germans. He's betrayed his country. He's with the enemy now; he won't be coming back.
Mrs. Filipov: Oh, my God. Oh, my God. He's become a traitor! What has he done? So he's going to stay over there?
Tania: Yes. He's going to stay over there.
[Shortly after, the three are making their way to the landing; it is crowded with refugees and under heavy artillery fire]
Mrs. Filipov: I shouldn't be saying this, Comrade Commissar, but maybe it's for the best! If the Germans have won, he'll be safe! I know it's wrong, but- perhaps he's made the right choice!
[After reaching the boats, Mrs. Filipov goes back to a wooden sign with many hand-written letters nailed to it. She leaves one, hoping Sacha will find it when the Germans take the landing]
Mrs. Filipov: [On the note] I am in good health. They are evacuating me to the other bank. Keep well my Sacha.


  • Some men are born to be heroes.
  • A single bullet can change history.
  • A battle between two nations became a conflict between two men.
  • A hero never chooses his destiny. Destiny chooses him.


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