Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Operation Valkyrie - my opinion

I went to see the movie, Valkyrie. Being a MOT (member of the tribe), I was, of course, curious to see how Hollywood would portray these would-be assassins of the Monster of the 20th century.

I was disturbed.

The prevailing line through the movie was "not all Germans were bad." Well, of course not. Not all people are evil, in general. But, the movie did not convince me much that the protagonists of the movies were good people, either. It seemed to try to desperately push the notion that resistance to Hitler, just the act of trying to assassinate him, made these men and women heroes. And yes, if the July 20 plot did succeed, the war would have ended sooner as the Germans staging the coup were ready to negotiate with the Allies for an end to the war. But, the movie left me feeling that their motivation had nothing to do with saving humanity or stopping atrocities. It was a way to lose the warm in a more graceful (and honorable? is war ever honorable) fashion.

Tom Cruise's performance was wooden and unemotional. I never really liked the character he played (Claus von Stauffenberg), there is little or no discussion regarding why he becomes so determined to be a leading force in the conspiracy. There's some mumbling about how he is disturbed by the atrocities being committed and such. But, it never seems to be a strong motivating factor. In fact, the movie doesn't dwell on motivations, just the actions of the plot.

The movie ends with a quotation from a memorial to the German Resistance. OK, that a German Resistance movement existed was new to me. And while it's important to know that people DID resist and were not just hypnotized by what Hitler offered, still, the movie did not give me any warm and fuzzy feelings about this group of people. Perhaps if the movie had explored how and why the German Resistance started, I might have felt a bit more generous to them.

And the movie left me thinking that these people were bumbling fools. They kept trying and trying to kill Hitler and something always went wrong. In the movie, the conspirators do get a bomb to explode, but they ASSUME that they are successful instead of ensuring that the result was as expected. Reading some of the actual facts does change the perspective a bit. They really weren't akin to the Keystone Cops.

To be fair, knowing that members of my family were destroyed in the camps during the war, does color my point if view. I found it very hard to warm up to movie's vision of the German Resistance. On the other hand, it has raised my curiosity about this subject and I'll be doing a bit more research in the future to gain some understanding of this flawed resistance movement.

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