Valkyrie – historical pic done right

A still from the movie "Valkyrie"

Hollywood doesn’t have a good reputation with regards to historical accuracy. Bryan Singer‘s “Valkyrie”, about the July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, is a restrained yet compelling thriller that delves into the heart of the story, staying faithful to the factual events, with some creative artistic licence.

Tom Cruise seems an unusual choice to embody Colonel Count Claus von Stauffenberg, a pivotal figure in the assassination attempt. However he approaches the role without his usual eye-twinkle, respectfully portraying Stauffenberg as a man torn apart, both physically and psychologically, by the regime he is forced to serve. The film adeptly captures the turmoil, apprehension, and the thwarted efforts within the conspirators’ circle, portraying the intricate complexities of their mission with authenticity.

Supported by an outstanding British cast featuring talents like Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Terrance Stamp, Tom Wilkinson, and an unrecognisable Eddie Izzard, Cruise skillfully navigates the narrative. The script tastefully adapts historical events, respecting the limitations of recorded history while constructing a plausible narrative within the context.

While the film takes certain creative liberties, such as the dramatisation of Goebbels’ arrest, these embellishments enrich pivotal moments without compromising the overall authenticity. Some deviations, although potentially jarring to purists, underscore Stauffenberg’s pivotal role in igniting the conspiracy’s momentum.

Tom Cruise and Carice Van Houten in “Valkyrie”

Critics have raised concerns about humanising Nazis, particularly in scenes where Hitler’s inner circle engages in seemingly casual banter. However, the film predominantly focuses on the conspirators, shedding light on their perspective without glorifying the regime. It serves as a stark reminder of the humanity within these individuals, accentuating the horror of their actions.

Despite the foreknown outcome, “Valkyrie” respectfully details the fates of each conspirator, grounding the narrative firmly in reality. Unlike fictionalised blockbusters, this tale remains rooted in historical truth—a poignant distinction evident throughout the film.

Though it lacks the explosive spectacle typical of Hollywood productions, the film showcases a sincere commitment from its creators. It highlights a lesser-known narrative of resistance, emphasising the courage of those who dared to oppose the regime—a story that deserves recognition and remembrance.

Stauffenberg and the Assassination Attempt of July 20, 1944 exhibit at the German Resistance Memorial

For those captured by this narrative, a visit to the German Resistance Memorial in Berlin offers a profound insight into not just the July 20 plot but also other resistance movements that challenged Hitler’s tyranny.

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