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ENEMY AT THE GATES

About The Production

One of the biggest challenges that faced the filmmakers was finding areas large enough in which to create Stalingrad's Red Square -- the very heart of the city -- and the river Volga.

Production designer Wolf Kroeger, together with Jean-Jacques Annaud and producer John D. Schofield, began a massive country- by-country search that took in Russia, Romania, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and England before they settled on eastern Germany.

"We did a lot of helicopter flights over the whole of east Germany," Schofield recalled, "and it was during one of these flights we found the Volga location at some open-pit mines near the Polish border."

For the other two locations, the producers decided on a derelict factory in the German industrial town of Rudersdorf and selected a deserted military barracks in the village of Krampnitz as the perfect backdrop to re-create the Stalingrad Red Square.

The latter location had been a riding school for the German military. Later, between 1945 and 1993, it housed over 25,000 Russians. It was during this period the land became badly polluted by oil from the many military tanks. This rendered the ground water unusable and meant the production had to have 10,000 liters of water pumped in daily, this in addition to building a new electrical main to make the location workable.

The producers also secured the support of the nearby town of Fahrland. "We knew that once we started shooting there would be a lot of noise, gunfire, explosions," said Schofield, "so it was crucial to get the people on our side and get them involved. We did this by employing many of their community. These included electricians, plumbers, the fire brigade and local caterers."

The building of Red Square began in October 1999 and continued through February 2000. The massive set included exteriors of the Pravda printing press, the Gorky Theatre, the Univermag department store (where Paulus would finally surrender) and Stalingrad's famous landmark, a fountain depicting playing children at the center of the square.

Also at the Red Square location, sets were built for the interior of the snipers' shelter, the reception rooms of the dacha where Vassili meets Khrushchev, the Pravda printing press and the cellar retreat in the Filipov family house.

The derelict factory in Rudersdorf was where scenes with Konig, the German sharpshooter played by Ed Harris, were filmed. Against the setting of a ruined tractor factory and his hideaway shelter, Konig plans his strategy to hunt down and destroy Vassili.

The filmmakers created the Volga River at the village of Pritzen, south of Brandenburg. Here, 600 extras depicted the evacuation of war-torn Stalingrad. This was the most complex location, requiring months of preparation and some 300 crew members for the actual filming.

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