Valkyrie (DVD Review)11 May, 2009 By: John Latchem
During World War II, German resistance groups made at least 15 confirmed assassination attempts against Adolf Hitler, but the last and most famous was the July 20 Plot.
On July 20, 1944, a bomb in a briefcase exploded under a conference table during a briefing attended by Hitler. The attempted coup would use the assassination to trick the Nazi’s reserve army into taking control of Berlin, giving conspirators time to reorganize the government and negotiate a truce with the Allied forces.
Director Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie is a solid re-enactment of this crucial moment in the history of World War II, with Tom Cruise as the scheme’s organizer, Col. Claus von Stauffenberg. Cruise seems somewhat out of place surrounded by a cast of top-notch British actors in the roles of key German officers.
The picture is beautifully shot, with Singer taking great care to re-create the trappings of the Nazi infrastructure. The result is a fitting memorial to those who resisted Hitler’s government from within.
The disc includes two commentaries. In the first, Cruise and Singer are joined by writer Christopher McQuarrie, but carry most of the load, telling a number of on-set anecdotes.
McQuarrie, joined by co-writer Nathan Alexander, gets more air-time in the second commentary, which is more of a discussion of the historical events that influenced the film.
The lead featurette, “The Journey to Valkyrie,” gives a simple glimpse behind the scenes. The short program omits any details of the reported controversy over Cruise’s devotion to Scientology, which is banned in Germany. In fact, the special portrays Cruise as the hero in working with German officials to secure access to film at the landmarks portrayed in the movie. The program also includes an interview with Stauffenberg’s grandson Philipp von Schulthess, who has a minor role in the film.
The other extra is The Valkyrie Legacy, a made-for-TV documentary from Kevin Burns about the actual events surrounding the July 20 Plot. Since the film was the subject of a blitz of DVD tie-ins, the inclusion of this piece is only fitting and also essential to make the DVD recommended viewing for history buffs.