Tuesday, January 6, 2009
"Valkyrie" is a film based on the true events of the last assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in 1944. It stars a major list of actors incluuding Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Carice van Houten, Thomas Kretschmann, Eddie Izzard, Christian Berkel and Terence Stamp. The film stars Tom Cruise in the main role as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the German officer who hatches the plan to overthrow Hitler. The film is directed by Bryan Singer.
I felt there were a few difficulties to get over in this film, and Screen Rant picked out the major three ones that I wished to discuss.
Tom Cruise is a major actor and performs well in "Valkyrie." His performance does not outshine other actors since the rest of the cast include many A-list English actors. Some audience members just don't see Cruise the same anymore since the all the gossip from magazines and such. His comeback cameo from "Tropic Thunder" has brought him back to the front and I believe he can return to doing more movies.
One of the major concerns about the movie that I heard from others was the use of accents in the film. Everyone was supposed to be German, yet the entire cast included English actors (there were a few German actors, like Thomas Kretschmann). The film stars out with a monologue voice over with Cruise speaking in German which slowly bleeds into English. English is then used throughout the film. The hard part of "Valkyrie" was to make the audience believe these were Germans speaking English, and it worked out well. During the movie I was watching Germans trying to kill Hitler and not English Germans.
In history, we know Hitler died in 1945 by killing himself (unless you believe otherwise). So unless you never went to school, you would know Operation Valkyrie fails. The other trick was to keep the suspense going so that people don't get bored knowing the group fails at the end. Singer did a great job of this in keeping Hitler a mysterious, menacing figure while making it seem hopeful at points that the group survives. But during the last 15 minutes of the film, you already know what is going to happen, but you watch it anyway.
Other concerns that I thought about during the movie dealt with complexities of names and explosives. I am terrible when it comes to names of characters in movies. I really am. If a character is not pointed to and a name is given to them, then I don't know who is who. So when a bunch of German names are thrown at me (I'm even bad with American ones), I could get confused. Luckily the film differentiates each character and it is actually hard to not know who a name belongs to (there were a lot of characters that I never got the name of at all). Another complex issue dealt with explosives and how bombs will explode at different pressures and etc. All that information was sugarcoated down so that anyone without a degree in physics could understand (like me!).
In the end, I believe it is a good WWII epic that can be viewed on the other side of the fight instead of such battle films as "Saving Private Ryan" or "Flags of our Fathers." Plus, I learned something about history...if they stayed true to the facts. Will have to wait for some kind of documentary on the DVD to find that out for real.