Sunday, January 4, 2009

Valkyrie Review

Valkyrie, the latest movie starring everyone's favorite Scientologist Tom Cruise, is a historical drama telling the story of Claus von Stauffenberg, a colonel in the German army during World War II, as he and a group of co-conspirators attempted to assassinate Hitler.

Now, on the one hand, I don't want to be too hard on the movie. From what I've heard, the movie is about as historically accurate as a Hollywood film can get. All of the actors played their parts well as they tell the story of men seeking to take control of Germany not for personal gain, but for genuine love of country. It was clear to Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators that Hitler's war would lead to the destruction of Europe (the movie takes place in 1944, just about a year before Berlin's surrender), and they didn't wish for history to remember Germany that way. They wanted to negotiate a peace settlement with the allies, and they believed the only way to do that would be to kill Hitler and seize control of the government.

The downside to basing a movie on historical fact, though, is that the ending is already known. And if you're going to tell a story that everyone knows, you've got to make sure that the story is entertaining. As I mentioned before, the actors in Valkyrie all played their roles well enough, but aside from the comments about saving Germany and Europe the movie does very little to explore the psychology of von Stauffenberg and the others. Granted, this would largely be in the realm of speculation, and perhaps the writers wanted to stick to the facts. But without that sense of motivation, all you have are people acting out a history book. The end result, then, is an informative film, passable enough, but ultimately lacking a certain depth.

If you're a history buff, especially a WWII history buff, you might want to give Valkyrie a shot, as it provides a lot more information on von Stauffenberg's assassination attempt than most of us got in history class, but most people Valkyrie is merely average at best.

Final Score: C

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

The main reason more "speculation" wasn't added into the film was that the Germans clamped down on the script and refused to let them film in Germany without having approval over everything they wanted to shoot. Rather than move the shoot they just stuck to facts. I'm not sure I wouldn't have rather them made the movie in hollywood and speculated a little on the characters internal monologues a little more.