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YMMV: Enemy at the Gates

  • Designated Hero: Vasili and especially Tanya suffer from this. The movie tries so hard to make Tanya's desire to abandon her job in intelligence and serve along Vasili seem like the right thing to do, and fails so hard if the viewer has an ounce of common sense.
  • Designated Villain: Danilov is treated as a villain long before he does anything remotely awful. The film acts like he's trying to pull a Uriah Gambit when he does nothing of the sort, and many of his criticisms of Vasili are bang-on. One could argue that Major Konig is one as well, given the relatively unlikeability of the main characters.
  • Ho Yay: Subverted - a viewer who knows nothing about the camaraderie in European armies (and European military culture in general) might think Vasily and Danilov have a thing for each other, but no, they're just army buddies. And it's not just European soldiers who share such man-love. The greatest bonds are formed between men during war.
  • Love It or Hate It
  • Moral Event Horizon: König is simply a dedicated soldier throughout most of the film, and even becomes somewhat sympathetic when he tells how he lost his son in the Battle, but he's widely seen to have crossed the line when he hangs Sacha for being a spy to lure out Vasily.
  • Narm: The look on Rachel Weisz's face during that sex scene isn't so much "You're an amazing lover" as it is "Oh fuck, you just tore something down there, and it hurts like hell."
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: Does anyone find the love triangle more interesting than the sniper duel?
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Danilov tells Sasha’s mother that Sasha defected to the Germans. Allegedly this was because Danilov could not bear to tell her the grim truth. Sasha’s mother reacts with relief and hope. This not only makes no sense from the context of what we’ve seen in the movie, but is also totally opposite from how such news would have actually been received, given the setting. We saw earlier in the movie how the commanders were suggesting to continue killing the families of those who failed to bring victory. For Danilov to report Sasha as a defector, it means Sasha betrayed the Motherland, and that not only disgraces Shasha’s name (and his family’s name) forever, but puts his whole family in mortal danger from the regime, and possibly also anyone they associate with (i.e. Zaytzev and Danilov).
    • Secondly, governmental Disproportionate Retribution aside, if one considers the cultural attitude at the time, it would have only made sense for Danilov to tell her the truth: Sasha died in service to his nation. If Danilov had done that, Sasha would have been remembered as a hero. If a (Soviet) Russian mother receives news of her son’s defection, on that day, she no longer has a son (she would disown him, in addition to him being made a non-person by the government, or worse, sent to a gulag, even shot).


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