After months of reading about Valkyrie I finally went to see it this weekend. It was supposed to be launched last June, but United Artists’ marketing campaign flopped and in typical movie mogul style they held off for a more positive audience response. I’m glad they did, as I liked Valkyrie and took it for what it is - a Hollywood movie – it’s not an arthouse, authentic, gritty indie film, it’s a movie, entertainment, showbiz. So, it’s a bit strange to read some critics moan about the historical inaccuracies and the use of British and American accents. It’s a star-studded film, with Cruise at the forefront, what did they expect?
Well, of course Valkyrie isn’t historically accurate, these kinds of films rarely ever are. Director, Bryan Singer’s, taken a good story and made it accessible and entertaining for a wide audience and manages to offer an insight into the rarely portrayed Nazi side of the war – he gets across the story, after all it’s not a documentary.
I remember by GCSE History lessons, so I sympathise that it’s difficult to make a thriller when the audience knows the outcome. Which is why Singer does an excellent job with Valkyrie. He keeps the film exciting and engaging and the characters human and not cartoonish. Even the baddies aren’t pantomime villains. Hitler seems wizened and feeble, not monstourous and insane, and the German Captain of the Reserve Army seems apathetic and inpatient for the war to end – not a dedicated idealist of the Fatherland.
It’s unusual to see a mainstream film from the ‘German perspective’ (though I am aware of the many German protests about this film) but to show the ‘Nazi’s’ to have heart, even the ones who aren’t involved in Valkerie. Tom Wilkinson’s Colonel General Friedrich Fromm shows the attitude, I’m sure many Nazi party members had, the struggle for survival. Who is the right side to be on? It’s not about ideology; it’s about self-preservation.
The accent issue is conveniently side stepped with a nice German to American montage at the beginning (according to Cruise on the Jonathan Ross show, he does actually speak German as a result of his dedicated research as part of this film). Yar, vot a neat vay to zide ztep a potentially laughable mistake. Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Eddie Izzard and Cruise are excellent and I think it’s because they’re free to concentrate on their performance without the distraction of maintaining an accent.
Interesting how Tom Cruise was filmed. As the ‘big’ star, Singer’s direction has nicely levelled Cruise with his contemporary’s. There are few glory shots (upwards, heroic) and his natural height is not hidden with clever angles, though he did have a conveniently Cruise-sized sidekick, but that’s fair enough.
If anything Valkyrie made me sad my grandparents had lived through such a fearful and terrible period of history and sadder still that they never wanted to talk about it with younger generations.
Best scene: Taking the revised plan of Valkyrie to Hitler’s lair to have it signed, very tense and the fake eye is creepy.