Paramount Home Video
Cast: Jude Law, Ed Harris, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins
Extras: Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer
The film opens with a visceral battle sequence set in 1942 Stalingrad where terrified Russian soldiers are forced to advance against the well-organized Nazi army in an open field conflict. As half the soldiers are killed, the others retreat only to be shot as cowards and traitors by Soviet officers. In the aftermath, only two men appear to have survived – a skilled marksman, Vassili (Jude Law) and political officer Danilov (Joseph Fiennes). Hiding themselves among the strewn bodies, Vassili eliminates five German officers and becomes the inspiration for Danilov’s impending propaganda machine that will paint the marksman as a much-needed national hero.
"Enemy at the Gates" boasted an $80 million budget which produced not only the impressive land and air battle sequences but also full scale sets of a devastated Stalingrad that are incredible to behold. Be prepared for graphic violence and bloodshed that, though not as disturbing as that seen in "Saving Private Ryan," can be equally unsettling nonetheless. Stated as being based upon a true story, the realism of sequences, situations, and characters in this film ekes of authenticity – director Annaud cited as a WWII expert himself.
Paramount Home Video presents "Enemy at the Gates" in a stunning transfer that is presented in <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen>, preserving the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The source material is virtually flawless – as one might expect of a recent release – and provides a DVD image that’s free of defects and faithfully recreates a film-like appearance. Though the film’s color is intentionally muted and drab, it delivers natural looking flesh tones. The blacks are deep, contrast is accurate, and the detail impressive even amidst many dark and smoky sequences. There are no signs of artifacting or edge enhancement anywhere in the presentation.
The <$5.1,5.1 channel> <$DD,Dolby Digital> soundtrack is equally impressive and aggressive. Though it might have taken a lesson or two from "Saving Private Ryan," the mix is quite active, delivering plenty of surround effects and deep low-end rumbling. And while there is plenty of audio action enveloping you during the battle sequences, the dialog is never obscured. Also worth noting is James Horner’s exceptional score which properly underscores the on-screen action and adds an audible coloring that enhances the listening experience. There is also a French 5.1 soundtrack included on the disc.
Paramount delivers a nice array of extras on this disc, beginning with two featurettes – "Inside ‘Enemy at the Gates’" and "Through the Crosshairs." Each running about 15 to 20 minutes, these featurettes take viewers behind the scenes of the production, which are quite informative but still feel rather promotional in essence. There are nine deleted scenes included, presented in non-<$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen>, that sadly are not complimented with any sort of commentary that explains why they were omitted from the final cut. Finally, you’ll find the original theatrical trailer presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital.