Driven by morbid curiosity and retinal masochism, we decided to plop down in the travelling theatrical Orange Tent, AKA ‘Valkryrie.’ Over the last few months we’ve watched the awkward marketing unfold — It’s a suspense movie! It’s an action movie! It’s British actors in German uniforms! Even Herr Cruise’s (cough) jarringly mechanical turns as a regular guy and ‘spontaneously’ making fun of himself on Letterman and Leno were compelling. Oh come on, admit it — in a twisted, clinical way. Right?
The theater was about 55% filled this evening. Surprising to the Stiftung, there seemed to be a large number of high school/early college gaggles of young girls/women. Were they there in full irony mode to join in the joke? Would L. Ron Hubbard expose the Corporal as a Xenu agent? Did the coup fail because the leaders were not ‘clear’?
Maybe the now trendy authentic Hugo Boss cut of the uniforms? (Yes, Dear Reader, Hugo Boss helped design the real uniforms then for the Corporal and gave an aesthetic that both Bryan Ferry and David Bowie embraced in the 1970s. Ferry still cops to it very recently, which cost him a job). With the revival of the ‘new’ punk again comes the superficial re-adoption of the whole tired regalia. Something called out the demographic. Does anyone think Cruise as Cruise works as an idol anymore?
Whatever the draw, it doesn’t last very long. We did hear one audience member begin to snore loudly about half way in. Male or female? Hard to tell in the surround sound.
But back to the flick. The fundamental question to ask is ‘Why did anyone make this movie?’ It’s not ‘bad’. It’s just completely superfluous. Anyone tuning into the
Hitler History Channel and its siblings knows the story to the point of muzak (although the Hitler History Channel et al. are woefully inaccurate across the board more than professionalism would or should allow. So it’s not a documentary covering a new story. And it also doesn’t work like the excellent HBO movie ‘Conspiracy’ with a much less corpulent Kenneth Branagh playing Heydrich instead of his token screen presence of von Treskow.)
At the end the Stiftung left the theater thinking the cinematographer did nice work. But drop some audio, break it down into snippets, and it could also be a risque cologne commercial. “Valkyrie, for the man who can’t plan . . .”
There is also no action, misleading promos aside. OK, you get a 15 second pop pop scene set in Africa at the start. And then the little boom at the end. Otherwise, people flit on screen for a brief moment and disappear. The whole cast blitzing thing makes sense only to either the
Hitler history porn aficionado — and even then they must strain — or to a viewer whose frontal lobe already has been anesthetized by concessionary corn dogs and Mountain Dew.
One thing almost any American movie goer will understand. General Zod helped lead the inept plotting (Terence Stamp as former CoS Ludwig Beck). It’s General fricking Zod, for crying out loud!
“You will kneel before Zod, Jor El, you and General Fromm of the Home Army!” How could they leave that scene on the cutting room floor? That would be ‘tight’ as the kool kidz say. A question the Great American Movie Goer doubtlessly will debate in SUVs scattering from multiplexes.
On a serious note, Cruise et al. not only mine (exploit?) a well known historical porn plotline. They also help market the falsehood of the honorable Wehrmacht. Only now in the 2000s are the German people and academics finally embracing the truth that ‘the evil SS, honorable Wehrmacht’ is a 50 year old lie — a lie perpetuated by defeated German Generals, inept British historians and Cold War geopolitics. It’s also a myth that smug editors at Harpers and elsewhere in media continue to drop in feeble historical analogies for our debased ‘sophisticate’ set.
Separate and apart from the Einsatzgruppe, the Wehrmacht before the Eastern Campaign planned the genocide of 10 million Russians in the Hunger Strategy of deliberating leaving Leningrad and other cities to starve to death (the Wehrmacht didn’t have the logistics for their own forces past the Dvina, really, and they certainly couldn’t feed or care for an occupied, defeated race). This is *separate* and apart from the Commissar Order or the ‘partisan’ (anti-Jewish) atrocities.
It’s not a bad movie. It’s not a good movie. We just can’t figure out it’s raison d’etre. We’d say save it for a rental but even that purpose eludes us. 2 Leos out of 5.