Sorry for the late review, but I have been distracted lately.
Anyway, I went to see Valkyrie on Friday night without any expectations besides that I knew the film featured a number of highly respected English actors like Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh and Terence Stamp. It also had a number of excellent German actors in the cast including Christian Berkel and Thomas Kretschmann who both appeared in the award winning German film ‘Downfall’.
It was quite an engaging film, considering that you know the outcome of the real event. That said, I still hoped they would succeed. Funny how films with historical context really have the power to engage on another level and World War 2 still has the ability to connect to an audience emotionally because of its savagery and also I guess, because it was the last war where there was a definitive ‘Good v’s Evil’ conflict.
I have to applaud Tom Cruise for taking on such a significant historical character and risking the fury of the German public. Totally different from characters he usually portrays, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg is a man of principles, who loves his country and will stand up when lesser men did not. As history shows, he was also to pay the ultimate price for his ideals.
The film was well paced, well scripted with excellent performances. The technique of changing the language from German with subtitles to English was nicely executed and from that point I totally accepted the mix of English, German and American accents. Uniforms and settings were accurately portrayed, but the one criticism I have is for the German inner circle of Hitler and his henchman. The actors just didn’t seem to capture the power or charisma that those men must have exuded. I think nobody will ever be able to match the performance Bruno Ganz gave as Adolf Hitler in ‘Downfall’.
It was refreshing to see a Hollywood film that didn’t try for a happy ending. How could they if the film was to stay true to history, but how often have we heard that downbeat endings have been sacrificed for happy ones. I give Valkyrie 4 stars