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Valkyrie         

United Artists
Certificate: 12 A
Liverpool Odeon Complex, Liverpool 1

Cast Includes:  Tom Cruise, Kenneth Brannagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard.
Running Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
Released: January 23, 2009

Promotional image for the movie: Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise

With so much controversy surrounding this film coming out of Germany – or more to the point, what Cruise would do to one of the country’s true Nazi-era heroes – Valkyrie is an incredibly intelligent, brilliantly executed piece of cinema.


For those living in a cave, Valkyrie is the story of the most famous of fifteen known plots to kill Hitler that took place on July 20th, 1943, when Claus Graf von Stauffenberg – a German war hero, badly injured by a British air assault in Tunisia, resulting in the loss of his left eye along with his complete right hand and three fingers of his left. Long disgusted at the reports of the atrocities against the Jews, von Stauffenberg decides to rid his homeland of its deranged leader and, having aligned himself with a dedicated group of fellow conspirators, von Stauffenberg originates a plan to not only assassinate Hitler by blowing him up at his Wolf’s Lair Headquarters, but also to disable the SS who would doubtlessly have taken over in the Nazi’s place. The plan failed because, as Sir Ian Kershaw puts it in his recent biography of Hitler, the Dictator had “The Luck Of The Devil”, when the briefcase holding the bomb was moved at the last moment.

 

The fears of the story being “Hollywoodized” to such an extent it would become unrecognisable prove fruitless however and Cruise, it has to be said, is highly convincing in what has to be one of his most understated roles. Okay, it’s not quite up there with his performances in Rain Man or Born On The Fourth Of July, but hey, they were both a long time ago now, when the actor was hungrier.

If there is a fault, it lies at the door of the scriptwriters who, sad to say, pen one or two lines that are so laden with cliché its cringe worthy. “We must show the world we were not all the same,” whispers Brannagh, by way of example. Does anyone really say things like that without being laughed at?

Don’t expect an all action blockbuster of a movie. The pace is almost BBC-like in a docu-soap kind of way, relying on relating the facts as best as possible, yet still managing to retain its compelling tension throughout.

With superb support from a mostly British cast, of whom Bill Nighy is quite outstanding, Valkyrie is more than worthy of a watch and should be included on the school curriculum to illustrate that not all Germans “were not all the same” as Ken so menacingly put it.

 

 


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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