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Valkyrie

2009-02-06 13:23
 

What it's about:

A retelling of the failed attempt by German army insiders to “remove” Hitler from power in 1944, just as the Second World War was reaching its climax. Tom Cruise plays the stoic Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, figurehead and assassin for the conspiracy.

* Watch the opening 5 minutes of the movie

What we thought of it:

What is it with Hollywood and Nazis? They, or perhaps I should say we, the movie going public, can’t get enough of them. Every time, just as people begin to lose interest, the Reich gets a facelift and film fans run back to World War 2 fodder like a child to its mother.

It’s 2009, and you’d be forgiven for thinking Hitler and his meanies are passé. But have you ever seen Nazis being the good guys? Now that’s Hollywood, turning a sworn enemy of mankind into a force for good on the silver screen. Of course, to be the good guy, these Nazis would have to fight other Nazis, and that’s exactly what happens in Tom Cruise’s factional suspense drama Valkyrie.

Cruise’s involvement with the project was heavily criticised in Germany, where it was feared his ties with Scientology would trivialise the historically overlooked German Resistance. "Unfounded!", say we, as Cruise recalls one of his better performances as the stern-faced procrastinator in The Firm. Sure, his Stauffenberg errs a bit on the Keanu Reeves side of wooden, but there’s enough gravitas and eye-patched bravado to lend Valkyrie what it needs; an anchor for an intricate, historically accurate (as far as we can tell) plot.

Valkyrie is an involving film, smartly paced and not without glossy Hollywood touches, but one senses that great respect is being paid to its historical source. Sexy embellishments, the little half-truths about Hitler ("Only one testicle!" screams the press), and mythical Nazi procedures we often find in these types of flicks, are kept to a comfortable zero, and what’s left to thrill us is the misfiring of an extraordinary trap that could have changed the face of the world, had it succeeded.

Of course, there are unresolved issues about the conspirators’ ambivalence about the Holocaust, but that's a moral morass the academics and letter writers are best left to cross. For my money and yours, a little conspiracy, a little suspense, and a giant cast of schemers in stern uniform is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. It ain’t Oscar serious, but it’s serious fun.


 
It might not get the Oscar glory it so obviously craves, but Valkyrie has plenty of TNT in its arsenal for history buffs and suspense fans alike.

Fred 2009/02/06 12:58 PM
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Interesting Movie.
Frank 2009/02/06 1:00 PM
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Looks like an interesting movie.
Anon 2009/02/09 11:24 AM
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Haha...another Hitler movie...borrrriiiiingg
Kim 2009/02/09 3:00 PM
Does anyone realise there was more war experience than hitler and nam????
Morgan 2009/02/13 10:47 PM
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Nicely done, and Cruise carries the film well. Just a pity anyone with a library card knows how it's all going to end.
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