Monday, January 5, 2009

Valkyrie: A Movie Review

In the long list of movies that opened over the Christmas holiday, one that is an inspiring story of resistance in the face of overwhelming odds is Valkyrie.

It turns out that the movie is not so much another World War II war movie, but rather a study in leadership and command coupled with the difficult life-changing decisions which sometimes need to be made. And then of course facing the real world consequences of the resultant actions. When the consequences of action or inaction are death, men flinch. This is serious stuff.

The reviews of the movie are generally good. The acting is excellent on all fronts. The cinematography is superior and the uniforms are real and appear authentic. Read the VOA review of the movie and its history. There is significant historical discussion about the motives of von Stauffenberg for his part in the plot. The movie would have the viewer believe he was motivated to end the war and surrender to the Allies for the greater good of Europe and Germany. And this seems to be the prevailing view of many historians, the Wikipedia article on von Stauffenberg is a good source for the basic history. Others would have have us believe that frustrated with Hitler's conduct of the war and in order to preserve Germany, von Stauffenberg planned the assassination and coup to allow the German High Command to run the war without Hitler's interference.

Even though I knew from history the outcome of the plot, I was still rooting for success. The mark of a good movie is one that can so intimately involve the viewer into the story. And this movie is just such a movie.

An interesting view of von Stauffenberg from his wife's point of view is: (from the Wikipedia site)

Describing her late husband, Nina von Stauffenberg said:

He let things come to him, and then he made up his mind ... one of his characteristics was that he really enjoyed playing the devil's advocate. Conservatives were convinced that he was a ferocious Nazi, and ferocious Nazis were convinced he was an unreconstructed conservative. He was neither.

Tom Cruise plays the part of von Stauffenberg very well and is surrounded by an excellent cast. Director Brian Singer does an excellent job of integrating the cast and keeping the story moving without lingering for too long on tangential plot lines.

Recommendation: A solid pick for both an entertaining and educational event. The movie provides another view of the German officer corps. There are some graphic scenes of violence which may not be suitable for smaller children especially both the beginning of the movie in North Africa and the ending. I recommend this movie be seen on the big screen. It will be a great rental, but the impact in better felt in the theater.

No comments:

My Zimbio
Top Stories