starring Tom Cruise, Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Kevin R. McNally, Tom Hollander and Terence Stamp
written by Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander
directed by Bryan Singer
Based on the true events of July 1944 when a German cadre of anti-Hitler conspirators within the military general staff, led by Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, tried to assassinate the Fuhrer and stage a coup d’état, Valkyrie is an excellent story and a great movie. I was disappointed when Cruise came to Tokyopromoting this film a few months ago and in answer to some reporter’s query made remarks somewhat to the effect that he did not previously know about the July 1944 assassination plot because in school he studied only general history. There is the problem, because even a general high school history of World War II should have provided him with the story. I learned it in high school. Cruise and I are almost the same age. Why didn’t he learn it in his school? Oh, yes. Americans. What has become of education these days? I am incensed. Remember, though, that I have a much broader definition of “public knowledge” than most other people, and I am apt to take ignorance as synonymous with stupidity, although I know in my heart that it isn’t so.
Anyway, although I knew of the Stauffenberg plot I was surprised by its intricacy and depth within the Berlin ruling caste. In hindsight I guess I ought to have known that the bomb plan was not the work of one man but an entire organization, an organization that had a plan for a substitute government with an armistice strategy. So I enjoyed being exposed to all of that and educated.
I don’t know how it compares to the reality, but the movie made it seem that the primary reason for the plot’s failure rested with Gen. Friedrich Olbricht (Bill Nighy) who simply waited too long to mobilize the Home Army in Berlin to arrest Nazi Party officials and secure the government. The assassination attempt took place at the so-called Wolf’s Lair, three hours’distant from Berlinby air. It took von Stauffenberg three-hours to return to Berlinduring which time Gen. Olbircht could have executed the entire coup according to the conspirators’ projected timeline. But he waited, hoping for confirmation of Hitler’s death, not taking into account that regardless of whether the Fuhrer was really dead that once the bomb went off he was committed. Frankly, I don’t see how Gen. Olbricht’s character helped the story. It seems that the plot could have failed without him, and throughout the film he was an annoying wet blanket in the whole thing. He was the Cowardly Lion.
Just out of curiosity I was interested to see so many veterans of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies in this film - Bill Nighy, Kevin McNally and Tom Hollander. Also out of curiosity I was interested to see British acting heavyweights like Nighy and Branaugh alongside the guy from Hollywood.