According to Wikipedia, the 20 July plot of 1944 was a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, inside the Wolfsschanze near Rastenburg, East Prussia. This was made to take power by means of an emergency plan called Operation Valkyrie (Unternehmen Walküre). Colonel Claus played the key role in the plot and was in charge of Operation Valkyrie. Because of his position, von Stauffenberg was allowed access to Hitler to make reports and for carrying out the other intended use of Operation Valkyrie.
The 20 July plot was the culmination of the efforts of the German Resistance to overthrow the Nazi regime. Its failure, both in Hitler’s “Wolf’s Lair” (Wolfsschanze) Headquarters and then in Berlin’s Bendlerblock, led to the arrest of at least 7,000 people by the Gestapo. According to records of the Führer Conferences on Naval Affairs, 4,980 people were executed which ultimately led to the destruction of the resistance movement.
This is the basis for Brian Singer’s Valkyrie, which although is a fictional take on history, according to Peter Hoffmann (professor of history), “Valkyrie gives a fundamentally accurate portrait of Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators. There are details which must be counted as liberties. But, fundamentally, the film is decent, respectful and represents the spirit of the conspiracy”.
The difficulty with historical movies, is that most people will know beforehand what the outcome of the movie is, making the suspense a whole lot harder to create. Fortunately Singer knows his stuff and has produced a highly polished, well thought out thriller that still has you hanging on every action.
My biggest concern going into the movie was naturally Tom Cruise, could he pull off the role? Initially Cruise wasn’t the only distraction as Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and other recognisable faces popped up. I initially wished that Singer had used a group of un-known actors, but after a while the actors seems to fill their roles quite naturally, and once the scene was set, the movie certainly picked up enough pace for any familiar faces to no longer be a distraction.
All in all Valkyrie lived up to, and surpassed my expectations. Cruise, whilst not really doing anything outstanding played his role adeptly and was supported by a great team of actors.
The recreation of 1940’s Germany and its war machine were well done, and the use of special effects was seamlessly infused into the movie.
As graphic as the movie could have been, Singer chose the route of implying what was happening in most of what could have been some very gruesome scenes, opening up this little piece of history up to a much wider audience.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read
Rating: M – Contains violence & offensive language.
Released on: July 9th, 2009
Year of Original Release: 2008
Stars: Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Clarice Van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann, Eddie Izzard, Terence Stamp
Length (Minutes): 130
Media Format: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1
Supported Audio: Dolby Digital Surround 5.1
Director: Singer, Bryan
Studio: 20th Century Fox