So Valkyrie has a fews things going against it; firstly, you know what’s going to happen in the end (and it ain’t pretty.) Secondly, the hero is a Nazi, which is always going to be difficult to pull off. And thirdly, it stars Tom Cruise, who’s an official loon and too barmy to be taken seriously in anything other than a straight-jacket. Quite remarkable then, that the movie turns out to be a tense, brooding Hollywood thriller about a piece of European history that’s been all but forgotten.
It’s premise is simple enough; in 1944, a group of conspirators lead by one-eyed, one-handed Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, placed a bomb in a briefcase in Hitler’s war cabinet room with the aim of eradicating Der Fuhrer and overthrowing the SS. We all know the bomb failed to do its work, and the movie recounts this moment in history well enough. But what’s more memorable – and in fact something of a revelation – is the nail-gnawingly taut aftermath of the blast, when the Good Germans so nearly, nearly pulled it off.
I enjoyed the film quite a lot – though these days I get distracted trying to work out how many local seamstresses would have been employed and how much business the local button manufacturer made, and how many construction crew got to work on the recreation of the Wolf’s Lair. I’m pleased too that the German authorities relented and allowed the filmmakers to use many of the original locations, including the Bendlerblock where von Stauffenberg and his cohorts were ultimately executed. It’s now a memorial to the German Resistance.