World War 2 History Exaggeration in Hollywood War Films
Have you ever watched a war movie based on only true events? I don’t think so! Is it necessary for the movie directors or screenplay writers to exaggerate history so as to manipulate it? Do historical inaccuracies not account for serious criticism or doesn’t it hurt a nation’s sentiments? I realized that usually controversial films get the most attention at the Box office, film critics and especially make their way to Oscars and Academy Awards. So the question is, is it impossible for a film director to make a war film that doesn’t contradict the history and also respects a nation’s sentiments? I really look forward to get the answer 🙂
The movie I will talk about here is the “Enemy at the Gates” a 2001 war film set during a fictionalized version of the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II. It was poorly received in both countries Russia and Germany due to falsifying the true events, re-engineering and fictionalization of the Battle of Stalingrad historical events.
Now let’s take a look at the historical inaccuracies or fictionalization of the Battle of Stalingrad in the movie Enemy at the Gates.
The Soviet sniper duel with his German counterpart was dramatized:
The whole story of the film revolves around the sniper duel between Red Army sniper Vasily Zaytsev the film’s protagonist and the German Major Erwin König whose proof as a real person is doubtful as no German records were found as the story of the film was loosely based on personal account of Vasily Zaytsev. The sequence of sniper duel was fictionalized and the Red Army sniper Zaytsev’s claim to kill Berlin Sniper School Head König is still doubtful till today.
The sniper rifle Mosin used in the film differed from the actual rifle
In the film, Jude Law uses a 7.62x54r Mosin Model 1891/30 sniper rifle with a PU 3.5 power sniper scope (i.e. the image is magnified 3 and a half times). Vasily Zaitsev used a Model 1891/30 sniper rifle with an earlier and larger sniper telescope (his rifle is preserved in a museum in Russia). Also, the poster for the film reverses the Mosin 91/30 rifle photograph so that the bolt handle appears on the left side of the rifle, instead of the right side where it should be.
The fictional love story between Zaytsev and Tania
The movie also depicted a love story between Vasily and Tania. However Vasily claimed never to have any relationship with anyone during the war. It is obvious that romance or love affairs during times of war is totally unimaginable one cannot believe in such kind of romance as it is highly unlikely in real life and especially during war times. I think that the fictitious affair between Zaytsev and Tania was added to perfect the story of a war hero and to make the story interesting and emotional as well but film critics do not agree:
“It is about two men placed in a situation where they have to try to use their intelligence and skills to kill each other. When Annaud focuses on that, the movie works with rare concentration. The additional plot stuff and the romance are kind of a shame”.
Source: Wikipedia: Enemy at the Gates