Monday, August 24, 2009
Despite the negative reviews I heard, I still watched Valkyrie. World War II movies intrigue me, like the rest of this country, so I had to check it out. Just look at how many movies are made on the subject! Can't we just list WWII movies off the tops of our heads? I mean, even Quentin Tarrantino is making a WWII movie. That's when you know it's becoming a bit obsessive.
In any event, most people who spoke to me about the movie stressed its disappointing nature. I still watched it, and I really don't see why the movie was all that terrible. Honestly, I was pretty interested. It's one of those movies where you know the ending, so it's not really a surprise, but you still sit there hoping that somehow the course of history you know is wrong. But it's really not.
Valkyrie depicts one of fifteen assassination attempts made on Adolf Hitler by Germans to take him down in the Nazi Party. Von Stauffenberg, played by Tom Cruise, is the movie's protagonist. The movie is meant to bring his attempt to light since it was the one that almost worked and would have saved many, many lives. Von Stauffenberg gathers a team of military helpers to try to use Operation Valkyrie, a national emergency plan, to stage a coup to take over Berlin and assassinate Hitler in the process. Unfortauntely, the plan did not work and Hitler had all of the helpers killed for treason.
From a historical standpoint, it's a pretty interesting film. It's different from other World War II movies because it deals with the German perspective (even though it is probably twinged since it's an American film). Wikipedia offers a lot of perspective on the American critics take on the film and the Germans take on the film. Quite interesting. Apparently, the movie was pretty accurate. I mean, the whole thing was created because the writer felt that the Von Straussenberg story needed to be shared with the world. And now we all definitely know.
What I did learn from Wikipedia was the German people's reaction to the film. They weren't so mad about the content as they were with the filmmaker's selection of Tom Cruise as the lead role. They did not like his role in Scientology and basically put up a small fight about him leading the role. He was not fit for it, his religion is offensive, yadda yadda yadda. Even protestors set out to picket it. But, Von Straussenberg's grandson stepped forward and admitted that it was okay for Cruise to play the role. Others agreed later on as well since they saw his professionalism and realized that his popular role in America would draw a large fanbase. Interesting dispute.
Overall, Valkyrie was very interesting if you like history, particularly World War II material. Cruise did a great job as Von Straussenberg, except I hate when he does those high-pitched screams. It sounds like my mom is yelling. I wish he had a more manly yell (better than "Show me the money!"), because it would add more to the character. It's just awkward. But despite that, he convinced me that he was the character and I thought he portrayed the story exceptionally well. Well done Cruise. And, he looks a lot like his character. It's kind of eerie!
I think the movie does send out a good message, especially since it's based on a true story. When you see a tyrant in your midst, do you go along because you fear for your neck or do you stand up to the cruelty even if it might mean that you die for what you believe? How do you want to be remembered as a people? Do you take a stand or sit by and watch? Is it just as bad to watch a perpetrator continue to perform ill than to commit the crime? Are you a part of the crime if you just stand by and do nothing? Think about those kinds of questions.
Valkyrie provokes those kinds of questions and perhaps applies them to our own lives. What kind of person do we want to be remembered as? Even though Von Straussenberg died, he is still remembered for trying rather than slipping into history unremembered. Without those like him, people don't take chances and horrible things happen. It's a great message to pass on even though he failed. We still learn from failure. It still can be motivational.
What do you think of Valkyrie?