Posted by: Kat | January 28, 2009

Valkyrie

German and WWII History is one of those areas that I enjoyed studying in school. My history teacher made us constantly question what had happened during the time and why it happened. We were taught both sides of the coin and to see that the actions undertaken during that time period by all parties were reflections of the Societal, Economical and Political values of the time.

Like many leaders before him, Hitler set out to conquer and expand German territories, assimilate races and eliminate threats. He gave promises to the people of retribution for what happened at Versailles after World War I and he delivered Germany out of Economy starvation. But It is his crimes against humanity and his philosophies that history remembers him the most for.

Now the other day I went to the cinema with my Jewish flatmate. He and I are both quite the history fanatics, so we wanted to go see Valkyrie. I was semi-reluctant because I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise (who is these days?) I’ve always found his acting to be wooden, but having said that I thought he was hilarious in Tropic Thunder. But the infamous story of the 20th July Plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and the steps that the conspirators took to enforce Operation Valkyrie to take over control of Germany, was enough to draw me into the cinemas. I wanted to see whether or not Director Bryan Singer could retell the story accurately on-screen. (I’m one of those people who get a little annoyed if historical films tell lies, unless those lies are artistically justified)

The movie “Valkyrie” had a stellar line up: You had Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Thomas Kretschmann, Terence Stamp, Eddie Izzard, Kevin McNally, Tom Hollander and of course Mr. Scientology. (Basically the entire cast of Pirates of the Carribean) The cast were superb in their supporting roles throughout the film, giving their individual characters the right amount of emotion and charisma. The downfall in the acting was Tom Cruise.

From my readings of his character, the real life Von Stauffenberg, I expected a charismatic, head-strong character with an energy and intensity that matched his convictions and will to go through with the so-called ‘Valkyrie Conspiracy’. Tom Cruise DID NOT deliver… His performance was just boring to be honest. There was more charisma in his fake eye that he carried around, than anything else. There was just no conviction in his acting, but I am glad he had the supporting cast that he did, because they made up for his short-fallings.

My flatmate and I enjoyed watching the film and guessing who was who in Hitler’s entourage and debating the accuracy of the story along the way. I’m glad no one was around us because we were talking quite a bit about the whole event, being the history nerds that we are. Overall we were satisfied with the portrayal of the events of the 20th July Plot to assassinate Hitler. There were of course some historical inaccuracies, but it is a film after all. Some artistic license has to be taking in to place. I highly doubt that the studio executives would of allowed for Beck (Terence Stamp), for example, to have killed himself the way in which his character really did in life. To shoot yourself in the head once, but not die, ask for another pistol, miss again and then have to have someone else finish you off… hmm don’t think that would of gone well in the test screenings!

Director Bryan Singer did an okay job with Valkyrie. I think he could of pushed more with  the content, but considering all the trouble that this film had during production, I think he did a good job. It was definitely no glossed over superman that’s for sure.

Walking out of the cinema, my flatmate and I were content with what we saw. It wasn’t the best film, but it was a film worth watching because it brings to attention the fact that not all of Germany was on Hitler’s side. There were those who did not agree with what he stood for and there were those who tried to end it. It’s a good history lesson on humanity and a good character study.

If you are wanting a film with a little more intellectual stimulus than some of the other action orientated fluff that’s out there at the moment, then I would recommend you go see Valkyrie. If war and history is not your cup of tea then go watch something else…

Rating: 3.5/5

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Responses

  1. It was a good movie. Although I donno if casting Tom Cruise was the best choice.


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