Sunday, May 31, 2009

Valkyrie (2008)

I watched Valkyrie last night. Directed by Bryan Singer, it stars Tom Cruise as Claus von Stauffenberg . Von Stauffenberg was a key player in a failed plot to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944. As the movie has it, the bomb planted in Hilter's headquarters did explode, but Hitler sustained only minor injuries.

I've just read Manohla Dargis's review of the movie and she says that Von Stauffenberg was actually a much more complex person than comes across. Indeed, I think my main problem with the movie is that Cruise/VS and the other plotters (including Bill Nighy and Kenneth Branagh) do come off as overly one-dimensional. They are frustrated with how Hitler is using the German military, but there's no discussion of what they think a proper role would be. The Holocaust goes completely unmentioned and much of the movie is more of a plot-driven thriller than a character-driven exposition of opposition to Hitler and his policies.

237. The movie portrays the Bill Nighy general (and other coup-leaders) rather passively following Stauffenberg's directives. Stauffenberg was a colonel, though (I think) -- what was it about his personality or approach that made him the leader of the effort and caused his ranking superiors to trust his judgment/decisions?

238. I couldn't buy into Cruise in this role -- he's too much of a Hollywood star and his voice/inflection/tone sounded similar to all his other stuff. Why was he chosen for the role? Was it a purely financial decision or did the director/producers actually think he could bring some gravitas to the role?

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