Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Valkyrie

Valkyrie tells the tale of the last attempt by members of the German Military, during World War II to stage a coup to overtake Adolf Hitler's Government. The film stars Tom Cruise, along with a multitude of British acting talent, and was directed by Bryan Singer who directed the first two X-Men films, Superman Returns and is the main director on House.

The opening scene of the film sets the scene beautifully, moving from Tom Cruise speaking fluent German into English, which draws us in, in a mesmerizing way to the setting. It's World War II and Colonel Stauffenberg - I think I've spelt that right - is in North Africa, fighting the Allies in a War he is against. They come under attack and he is massively injured. On his return to Berlin he meets with a resistance of military officers and politicians.

When going into this film there are a few things already laid out, we know this is about an attempt on Hitler's life. We also know that it failed as anyone who did a GCSE in history knows that Hitler killed himself when the Allies had Berlin surrounded. So there are no major plot twists coming. Instead in this film we are looking for some inspiring figure. In this way I would say it was comparable to Braveheart. This is no more obvious than at the end where - and maybe a spoiler warning - Cruise's character Stauffenberg, shouts at the top of his voice, "Long Live Sacred Germany", as he is executed by the firing squad.

So the beggining was good, the end was very moving and inspiring, but what about the middle? To be quite honest the middle isn't great, and this is where the substance of the film comes into play. Cruise has a few moments when the charisma of his character shines through, his ability to lead is wonderfully portrayed. But nothing ever really draws you in. Bill Nighy gave a quite interesting performance, it really shows how versatile he is, he is so nervous yet he is doing such a bold thing and this conflict really shines through in his performance. On a small aside note, an intersting artistic choice that was made by Singer was I think to have the gunshots and explosions stand out massively on the audio track. This makes them so shocking and suprising, even though you know they are coming.

Singer showed us exactly what needed to be shown, but I feel he didn't show us what we wanted to see, which is what makes a film. At the moment I'm having trouble putting what I feel about this film into words, as you may be able to tell. I think this film is definitely worth seeing, it's very inspiring, and though not fantastically entertaining, it is about a very important time in global history. So see it, and tell me what you think, I really hope everyone disagrees with me.

1 comment:

Tom Scrace said...

Nice review! I will let you know whether I agree with you when I see it myself.

Tom