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by Tony Medley
Sometimes I hear
things that just boggle my mind. This time itís the number of people who
state that they have never heard of the attempt on Hitlerís life by
Wermacht Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg on June 20, 1944.
This is one of the facts of history that Iíve known for so long it seems
as if I was born with the knowledge. I canít remember when I first
learned of it, but it must have been when I was relatively young. I
thought everybody knew about this. It wouldnít have occurred to me that
vast numbers of people are interested in this film, which is about that
assassination attempt, because they didnít know about it. Even Tom
Cruise, who stars in the film, has stated that he didnít know about it.
Although nobody can know exactly what went on
behind the scenes when von Stauffenberg (Cruise) tried to assassinate
Hitler (David Bamber), director Bryan Singer has mounted an admirable
recreation of the way things might have been in this believable telling
of an event, the details of which have been shrouded in mystery.
Bolstered by a terrific cast, headed by Bill
Nighy as General Friedrich Olbricht, Tom Wilkinson as General Friedrich
Fromm, and Terence Stamp as General Ludwig Beck, Singer tells the story
as a thriller, even though we know the outcome. What was interesting to
me was how close von Stauffenberg came to pulling it off, if this is to
be believed. It was only due to the dilatory response of some of von
Stauffenbergís co-conspirators that they didnít take over the government
in the confusing hours following the blast that failed to take Hitlerís
life. For a few moments it looks like it might succeed, and Singer
presents the excitement as palpable. If von Stauffenbergís allies had
acted with dispatch, it might have become a fait accompli by the time
that Hitlerís survival became confirmed.
One note of interest is that the execution
scene of von Stauffenberg and his closest allies was shot in the place
where they actually occurred. Cruise and the filmmakers have said that
shooting the scene was quite emotional and that the entire cast and crew
showed respect for those who died there by saying a short prayer before
and filming the scene with dispatch.
I enjoyed the film, but I thought that Cruise
didnít ring true as the doomed von Stauffenberg, who was a legitimate
war hero, having lost an eye, his right hand and two fingers of his left
hand fighting in North Africa.
Other than that, the film is interesting and well done, especially if
you are among the apparent multitudes who donít know anything about this