The first six minutes of Brian Singer’s Valkyrie can currently be viewed on Apple’s Movie Trailers site (and have consequently found themselves heading to YouTube – you’ll find the video at the bottom of this piece) and they’ve suddenly reawakened my interest in a project I’d largely forgotten about.
Setting the scene for one of the most audacious events in global history, the opening gambit of Brian Singer’s account of the assassination attempt of Adolf Hitler during World War II is all about Tom Cruise, who has bagged the role of Colonel von Stauffenberg, the man with the plan. In a strange way, Cruise manages to portray the very German von Stauffenberg as the archetypal All-American hero that he has come to represent, in cinematic stakes at least. In Hitler, there is a common enemy for cinema audiences to rage against and who better to take up the mantle than Cruise.
It cleverly steps around the problem of handling foreign events and characters in the English tongue by opening up with Cruise writing a diary and thinking the words to himself in German, sporting a pretty good accent as he does so. Then, this German language segues into the familiar drawl of Cruise, and a very effective device it proves to be. By the time Cruise utters the words, “A change must be made,” while the camera focuses on a black and white picture of Hitler, you’re already utterly gripped.
Then the always-brilliant Bernard Hill takes to the screen and seconds later all hell breaks loose, culminating in British fighter pilots administering the wounds and eye patch that von Stauffenberg is now famous for. Oddly, now that the audience knows the plans he has in store for Hitler, these events elicit an odd sense of sorrow for Cruise, despite the fact that our boys have just got one up on the Third Reich.
This is a cracking opening salvo for Singer’s movie and I, for one, cannot wait to see more when it’s released later this month. Its US reviews have been better than expeceted too, which helps.
Watch it for yourself here:
13 January 2009