15 Facts About Enemy at the Gates
Don’t get caught in the crosshairs. Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about Enemy at the Gates.
1. THE FILM IS BASED ON JUST THREE PAGES FROM A BOOK
Dueling snipers appeared in Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad.
2. BUT IT’S LARGELY FICTIONAL
The sniper’s duel between Zaitsev and Konig is pure fiction, in fact, Konig himself allegedly never really existed.
3. RUSSIAN VETERANS HATE IT
Some veterans of the battle depicted in the movie hated its inaccuracies so much they called on Russia to ban the film outright.
4. JUDE LAW WAS ADDED TO THE MIX BECAUSE OF A PREVIOUS ROLE
Director Jean-Jacques Annaud saw a preview screening of The Talented Mr. Ripley and sought out Law for a part in his movie.
5. IN CASTING, THE EYES HAD IT
Jude Law and Ed Harris were cast in part because of their piercing eyes.
6. BOTH LEAD CHARACTERS HAD SERIOUS FIREPOWER
Law’s character used a sniper variant of the Mosin-Nagant M91/30 rifle while Harris’s character used A Mauser Karabiner 98k Sniper Rifle.
7. THE LEADS WERE TRAINED BY EX SNIPERS
They taught the actors how to hold and shoot historically accurate rifles.
8. FINDING THE RIGHT SET WAS A WORLWIDE PRODUCTION
The filmmakers scouted locations for the movie in 18 different countries.
9. THE PRODUCTION EVENTUALLY CREATED A NEW STALINGRAD
The producers ended up building a full-scale set in Germany as a stand-in for war-torn Stalingrad.
10. THE RIVER SEQUENCES WEREN’T SHOT ON RIVERS
The crossing-the-Volga sequence was shot in open mining ponds found by the production on the Polish/German border.
11. THE FILMMAKERS PREFERRED THE REAL THING TO CGI
Instead of CGI soldiers, up to 600 extras appeared in battle scenes.
12. THE FILMMAKERS WANTED THE BATTLES TO BE INTENSE
Stuntmen dressed as soldiers among the extras set off each explosion to help add to the random chaos of the battle sequences.
13. DESPITE ITS HISTORICAL INNACURACIES, IT WAS A COMMERCIAL SUCCESS
It’s the 13th highest grossing WWII movie of all time with over $96 million at the worldwide box office.
14. IT WAS HUGE FOR A NON-HOLLYWOOD PRODUCTION
At the time of release, the $90 million movie was the most expensive foreign-funded film ever made.
15. THE ENDING WAS CHANGED BECAUSE OF STUDIO NOTES
Spoiler: Tania was originally supposed to die, but the studio demanded the film’s conclusion be changed because it wanted a happy ending.