| Valkyrie (2008) |
Valkyrie tells the story of an assassination and coup attempt against Adolf Hitler. Well planned and organised, it might have succeeded, but small unforseen events kept this attempt from working as planned. It is rivetting, sort of like Mission Impossible with unrelenting suspense right through to the credits.
While very entertaining, the film is also historically accurate. It shows that Germany was not a monolithic group of Hitler lovers, but that there were still people with enough courage to try to stop Hitler even toward the end of the war. There is a tendency in America, Great Britain and Canada to gather only two simplistic lessons from WWII.
1) We were right, because we were us and they were strange foreigners.
2) Don't vote for anyone with a moustache.
We need to understand history in all its complexity and seeming contradictions if we are to walk away with any useful information.
Tom Cruise does a good job in his portrayal of the Col. Stauffenberg. It is easy to see that his character is a good husband and father who must risk the lives of his wife and children to try to save Germany from the disastrous NAZI regime. He is torn and the personal stakes are extremely high. Unfortunately, we already know that the coup will fail. This presents a limitation to the film.
Many reviewers have panned Valkyrie just because Tom Cruise plays the lead. They do not like his religion and many were shocked when he made blanket remarks about women. We expect women to make blanket remarks about men, so there was a feeling that Tom did not know his place as a man. Also, many Jewish groups see the film as letting Germans off the hook. This is sad, because it is a misinterpretation of history to simply say that Jews are good and Germans are bad.
Setting aside all of that, the movie was great. I had heard of the assassination attempt on Hitler, but I had no idea of how complicated it had to be. It is a shame to think of all the effort and risk that went into it and all for nothing. If you have any interest in history, then go see it. For sure, one of the best films of 2008.
- Reviewed by PaulG.
Rated: PG13 in USA due to executions and action violence.
Duration: 2 hours