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Sunday, July 01, 2007

20, July 1944

Tom Cruise will star as Stauffenberg in a movie on Operation Walküre, the biggest coup attempt ever attempted against the Hitler government (check Wikipedia if you never heard of it). Over 200 people sentenced to death, 5,000 arrested after it failed (one of which ironically - to all those familiar with the Revolution 1918/1919 was Gustav Noske, the bloodhound). Admittedly the Gestapo used the coup attempt as a way to settle some scores, yet, considering its scope, a military takeover with the SS being usurped as well as the NSDAP and a civilian government had been prepared as well as a new military leadership, the 20, July 1944 was unparalleled in the history of the Third Reich.

Even though I usually like to watch historical movies and even more so about aspects of history that interest me (I watched the Good German for God's sake, it, well, wasn't that great), I am not going to watch this movie.

Why? A couple of reasons are decisive here:

Tom Cruise sucks. I don't have a problem with him being a member of scientology(I just think he is a moron for being a member of an authoritarian or even totalitarian religious society), but I don't think I have ever seen a movie with him where I came away impressed by his acting.

I don't trust Hollywood to not turn this into a melodramatic movie, with Stauffenberg's love interest riding off into the horizon to classical music in the end.

Finally, I am sick and tired (j'en ai marre! - le francais est vraiment plus fort là) of the overemphasis on the conspirators of the 20th July 1944 and even more so the way are portrayed nowadays. Let's not forget that these same guys supported the Hitler regime until military victory became a virtual impossibility, which is when they decided to act. Their opposition was directed in no sense whatsoever against the extermination of Jews, homosexuals and others. The only reason for their coup-attempt was to enable Germany to escape the shit hole (sorry, but it's true, ain't it?) that the Nazi-government had guided it in (and into which the Germans had proved to be more than willing to be lead).

Their glorification is completely ridiculous in the end. There were so many other people that acted, and for better reasons, and earlier, and braver (meaning alone or in smaller groups with lesser chances of success). My favorite will always remain Georg Elser.

Ah, wirklich also? Ein wenig spät, ihr Herren, die ihr diesen Erzzerstörer Deutschlands gemacht habt, die ihr ihm nachliefet, solange alles gutzugehen schien, die ihr, alle Offiziere der Monarchie, unbedenklich jeden von euch verlangten Treueid schwort, die ihr euch zu armseligen Mamelucken des mit hunderttausend Morden, mit dem Jammer und dem Fluch der Welt belasteten Verbrecher erniedrigt habt und ihn jetzt verratet, wie ihr vorgestern die Monarchie und gestern die Republik verraten habt.
Friedrich P Reck-Malleczewen zum 20.07. 44


Julie said...

Tout à fait d'accord ! J'ai bien peur que ce film soit très énervant.. On s'est rencontré la première fois dans le musée de la Résistance, là où les SS résistants du 20 juillet 1944 furent fusillés.. et on avait vu beaucoup de choses à leur gloire avec Camille et tu nous avais dis ce que tu pensais.. et c'est exactement redit là, c'est bien Ben ;) tu restes intègre :D

Anonymous said...

FYI: Last week's 'Economist' takes an interesting stance on the issue:

Filming German history
The good German

Aug 2nd 2007
From The Economist print edition
Should Tom Cruise star in a film about Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg?

“IN MY entire childhood few events were as frequently discussed during supper at home as July 20th 1944,” says Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, a German director who won an Oscar earlier this year for his film about East German spies, “The Lives of Others”. When talk turned to the plotters, led by Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, who tried to assassinate Hitler on that fateful summer day, his mother, who was normally pretty rational, would cry “I admire nobody more than Stauffenberg, nobody, nobody!” For her generation the Stauffenberg plot was more than a failed plan that cost hundreds of lives, including those who just knew about it. It was the symbol of German resistance against Hitler, proof that in the darkest hours of German history, decency and honour survived.
AFP Spot the real Stauffenberg (Cruise is on the right)

Young Germans still grow up with the hagiography of the plotters, but few outsiders now know who they were. This is likely to change. Two weeks ago in Berlin, Bryan Singer, an American director, began filming “Valkyrie” in which Tom Cruise, one of America's biggest stars, is playing Stauffenberg. When the film is released next year it will almost certainly be a box-office hit: millions of devoted fans watch any film so long as Mr Cruise is in it.

In Mr Henckel von Donnersmarck's view, Mr Cruise will do more for Germany's image than ten football World Cups. Yet Berthold von Stauffenberg, the plotter's son, is opposed to the film because he thinks in such cases drama always takes precedence over facts. Some German politicians have protested against the casting of Mr Cruise. And the defence ministry refused to allow filming at the Bendler Block, where Stauffenberg and others were executed, on the ground that the actor is a follower of Scientology, which in Germany is seen as a cult with totalitarian tendencies (it is not banned but is kept under surveillance).

But film-goers are aware that film-makers have poetic licence. So long as a director does not distort the essence of the story—a patriotic officer breaks his oath of loyalty to the German army to kill a tyrant—he must be allowed his interpretation of events. And Mr Cruise is an actor, not some contemporary version of Stauffenberg. Nobody, after all, probed Liam Neeson's ethics when he played Oskar Schindler in “Schindler's List”, a film about the man who saved hundreds from death in a concentration camp.

The Stauffenberg group will always occupy a special place in German history. They were not perfect: some had the anti-Semitic prejudices common among members of their aristocratic class, others had sympathies for authoritarian regimes. But they gave their lives trying to get rid of one of the most evil regimes in history. As such they should be remembered by as many as possible for as long as possible. A film by one of America's best directors, with one of its most successful actors in the main role, may well help that legacy.

Sensemania said...

I don't really see how this is related to my main point. To me it emphasises one of my criticisms. I don't want people to concentrate on this failed attempt as if it was the only one, especially considering that these officers mostly were disgustingly conservative and nationalistic members of the nobility. Their glorification and the limitation of the resistance to Hitler to them is exactly what I despise about this project.