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Operation Valkyrie
Operation Valkyrie
Actor: Sebastian Koch
Director: Jo Baier
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
PG-13     2009     1hr 32min

In 1944, a group of high command officers plot an attempt against Hitler, and one of the leaders of the conspiracy, Stauffenberg, goes to a meeting with the Fuhrer in charge of exploding the place. However, Hitler survives...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actor: Sebastian Koch
Director: Jo Baier
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Dubbed,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/16/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2004
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 32min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: German, English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Movie Reviews

"Mein Fuhrer, Colonel Von Stauffenberg."
J from NY | New York | 03/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Jo Baier and company did an excellent job (better, I daresay, than Bryan Singer) of resurrecting a very dark period in German history that produced very few heroes--except, of course, the men who are the subject of the film.

By now the story is well known. A disgruntled group of German SA officers, disgusted at the evil entity Germany had become and well aware that Hitler was driving their country into the ground, decide to assassinate one of history's most monstrous figures--Adolf Hitler. On July 22, 1944 a tall general with one eye and one hand decided to do just that while the rest talked. He placed a briefcase bomb next to the dictator and for various incidental reasons the blast killed many in the room but not the target. They were executed some 24 hours later.

Sebastian Koch doesn't do the Tom Cruise "Superman With an Eye Patch" routine. He plays a patriotic and self deluded soldier whose contempt for Nazism and Hitler himself slowly grows into a heroic willingness to risk everything; his life, his family's welfare, and the lives of his comrades.

At the beginning we see a youthful, eager Wehrmacht soldier who seems to feel that Hitler is the second coming. His close friends in the SA believe otherwise, and in one chilling scene a Jewish woman recounts to Stauffenberg and company an incident in which her infant was executed at point blank range along with her mother and sister.

Friedrich Olbricht played elegantly by Rainier Bock, another hero who seems unsung in this now Hollywood packaged piece of history, insists that Germany is no longer waging a war but a campaign of racial genocide. Stauffenberg is at first reticent about any kind of assassination, and has himself reassigned to the Afrika Korps in 1943.

An eager young soldier approaches Stauffenberg while he is stationed on the front, obviously impressed by his prestigious background, and is killed right before Stauffenberg is wounded (losing an eye, an arm, and three fingers.) In a scene that beautifully encapsulates Stauffenberg's growing contempt for the bloodthirsty monster and his disregard for his own people. Holding the young man's body and adominishing him for not escaping, he says, "All this?!?! For him?!", throwing Hitler's picture across the bunker. From hereon out, Stauffenberg is determined to kill him or die trying.

This is a subtle, slowly paced, and masterfully acted little film. Originally a German TV movie, it is not long enough to cover the other assassination attempts on Hitler or to give due credit to the other members of the conspiracy. Jo Baier and company did an excellent job (better, I daresay, than Bryan Singer) of resurrecting a very dark period in German history that produced very few heroes--except, of course, the men who are the subject of the film.

Hitler isn't seen much in the film but when you do see him it makes quite an impression. The scene in which Stauffenberg arrives at Hitler's HQ is bone chilling. Always Hitler's toad, Keitel introduces him to Hitler, whose back is to to Stauffenberg. When he turns around we see the cold, cruel little eyes stare back at the horrified General.

Hardy Kruger Jr. does an excellent job as Werner Von Haeften, Stauffenberg's young adjutant, who at jumps in front of his friend and commander to shield him from the inevitable as he is executed. The best movie about Claus Von Stauffenberg thus far."
From the German Stance
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/19/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"OPERATION VALKYRIE (originally titled STAUFFENBERG for its 2004 television release in Germany) is a condensed, powerful, and realistic telling of the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler by his own military supporters on 20 July 1944. Unfortunately now in the shadow of the highly touted VALKYRIE released this past year as the Hollywood version of the incident OPERATION VALKYRIE is getting little attention from viewers. Now that it is available on DVD perhaps it will gain the importance it deserves.

For one aspect, the film is written, filmed and acted by Germans and the result is a different kind of felling than the later VALKYRIE: the tenor of the film suggests a growing lack of hope and a recognition of the insanity of Hitler by the a larger portion of the German populace than we have been lead to believe. It bears more a sense of reality than of a thriller movie.

Sebastian Koch is wholly credible as Oberst Claus Graf Schenk v. Stauffenberg - a devoted military man under the spell of Hitler's influence in the early years of the rise of the Third Reich who gradually pays attention to the rumors and reports of Hitler's aloof response to his murders of thousands of people. In a particularly touching scene a Polish Jew named Polja (Katharina Rivilis) recounts the horrors that the war has imposed on her family and her descent into insanity from Hitler's plan and execution of that plan for the genocide of the Jews. Stauffenberg is so deeply touched by this crowning encounter that he requests immediate transfer to the African Front and it is there that he is nearly killed in action, losing a hand and an eye. From the moment he awakens in a Munich hospital he begins his plan to exterminate Hitler (an impressive mute role by Udo Schenk), a plan that ultimately fails and results in Stauffenberg's assassination - a film clip of which opens the film before the credits.

The cast is excellent and the pacing and forward momentum of the story as written and directed by Jo Baier makes for a film that strikes the viewer in bullets aimed for the mind and heart. If too much of the peripheral activity of the times around the 1944 event is edited, remember that the film was originally a made of television experience to be viewed by the German populace and accepting part of the history depicted is still tainted by the horror of the Hitler guidance of Germany. Well worth watching. Grady Harp, July 09"
Interesting German-Language Version Of The 20 July 1944 Plot
HAMLET | 05/15/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Having already seen "Valkyrie" in theaters, I thought I'd check out this version of the story, filmed in German, in 2004 (the 60th anniversary of the 2o July 1944 plot). The film does a good job of filling in some gaps and modifications to several details in "Valkyrie" (Stauffenberg's life 10 years prior to his first attempt to kill Hitler on 25 December, 1943, Witzleben arriving at the Benderblock and getting into a heated argument with Stauffenberg and Olbricht, Beck's failed attempts to kill himself, followed by his off-screen death), but is too short, at 90 minutes, to be an in-depth look at the men behind the conspiracy or, as another reviewer posted, at the other 14 previous attempts to kill Hitler (two or three of which were carried out by Stauffenberg). Personally, I thought that
"Valkyrie" was a better film version, but it's no substitute for reading the extensive amount of material on the 20 July 1944 plot. Rated PG-13 for brief language and some violence."
Too Episodic
R. Schultz | Chicago | 09/11/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I grabbed this DVD thinking it was the Tom Cruise-Hollywood version of the 1944 plot to kill Hitler. However I soon realized this DVD is actually a European made-for-TV movie on the subject. So you need to distinguish between Cruise's "Valkyrie" and this European dramatization "Operation Valkyrie."

This disc automatically started to roll with English dubbing and no subtitles. But you can play it with a variety of other option combinations - original German audio with English subtitles, vice versa, etc. The dubbing is skillful, so I just left it on that automatic option. Still, that didn't allow me to hear the real voices of the actors. Sebastian Koch, who was so compelling a presence in "Other People's Lives," definitely lost something in the dubbing process.

In general, this dramatization of the conspiracy to plant a bomb in Hitler's conference room really didn't grip me. Count von Stauffenberg's conversion to the cause was just too easy. Early in the film, we see him expressing typical Nazi disdain for all Poles. Then cut to a Polish girl wrenchingly describing the atrocities she has seen and suffered. Then cut to von Stauffenberg entertaining an invitation to join in the developing plot to kill Hitler. The emotion doesn't flow logically.

This whole film generally shows too much effect and not enough cause - too many ends and not enough means. It does contain some telling scenes of von Stauffenberg's family life. It also shows the awful ping-pong between hope and fear, between triumph and dread that the conspirators experienced after the bombing. "Yes, we got him! - Wait, a body was carried out, but its face was covered. - Of course he's dead. He couldn't have survived. - Wait, there's a report he just phoned..." However, most of the tension and terrible risk involved in enlisting the members of the conspiracy and in meticulously overcoming the difficulties involved in assembling and placing the bomb - all get painted with too broad a brush, in too much of a slapdash from scene-to-scene, setting-to-setting.

An earlier movie starring James Mason as "The Desert Fox" Rommel included an account of this plot that is probably more fictionalized, but that is more moving. The ending of Mason's film led me to more poignantly, more personally feel the sacrifice that the members of the plot made in their attempt to get rid of Hitler. I recommend checking out "The Desert Fox."

Perhaps the most interesting recent account I've found of the assassination attempt is the purely documentary one given by Traudl Junge, Hitler's secretary. She was in another wing of the bunker when the bomb exploded. To learn more about this episode in history, I recommend you check out the filmed interview with Junge called "Blind Spot" and the book made of her writings, "Until the Final Hour."

Here she tells about hearing the explosion, about the chaotic comings and goings from the bunker afterwards, and about the changes she saw take place in Hitler as a result of the failure of the plot. Junge's rare insider account reveals the ultimate tragedy of this episode in history - a tragedy not even touched on in "Operation Valkyrie." Junge affirms how Hitler interpreted his survival of the explosion as a sign that he and the Third Reich were indeed invincible and fated for triumph. The bomb only confirmed Hitler in his mission of conquest and extermination."