Posted by: Michelle Mitton | December 27, 2008

Valkyrie Is a Hit Whether You Think Tom Cruise Is a Flake or Not

Tom Cruise in ValkyrieUsually the Christmas movie lineup gets me all worked up a month or two before it hits but this season the only movie I really wanted to see was Valkyrie–aka “Tom Cruise’s new movie.”

So maybe I was determined to like it but I can say quite confidently that it’s a fabulous movie. If you haven’t already heard it’s the based-on-a-true-story adaptation of a plot to kill Adolf Hitler attempted by German officers and politicians and lead by Claus von Stauffenburg (Cruise) who are all horrified by what their country has become.

Not only does Cruise give a great performance (along with other acting heavy weights such as Kenneth Branaugh, Terence Stamp and Tom Wilkinson), not only is the music, cinematography and lighting quite right but the story is so moving that when the lights finally went out on the last scene the audience in the theater sat there for a moment in an awed silence to take in those last moments.

The beauty of the film is this: Germany has lived with the stigma of Hitler for sixty years and even I have been guilty of wondering how a group of people could allow that kind of a monster to flourish. Yes I’m aware of the socio-economics of post World War I Europe and the stiff reparations that forced Germany into drastic times but nonetheless I’ve wondered how so many people could sit by and allow the SS to kill so many of their neighbors.

Valkyrie gives the other side to the story and while it may be romanticized I couldn’t help but be caught up in the bravery of so many who sacrificed so much so that the world wouldn’t remember their homeland as “Hitler’s Germany.” That not only were there Germans who didn’t support Hitler but actively opposed him and gave up everything to fight his regime. It also shows the power that one person can have–either for good or evil. “You have to make a choice–what is that going to be?” as Cruise says at one point.

There are a couple times in the movie where I thought “Wow the action is really moving along–how will this stretch out into two hours?” but it did and it kept you going. I’d be curious to read up a bit on the real life events to see how much of the story is accurate–especially since I imagine that many of the details of the plot would have been destroyed by the Nazis such that it might be difficult to have all of the facts.

But if you’d like a stirring two hours that makes you completely forget Mr. Cruise’s oddities on Oprah this would be a good place to start. Definitely an A movie.

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