Wednesday, 12 November 2008

"Valkyrie" - Tom Cruise


I notice that the release date of "Valkyrie" has been postponed again. It will now air in the UK on 30 January 2009 - ironically the very date that Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 (but that's probably deliberate).


Its a little frustrating that the film has been shunted around the schedules so much. It was initially earmarked for a summer 2008 release, then it was shifted to February '09, then brought forward to December 26th. Now, back to the end of January.


This is not only frustrating for those of us who are keen to see the film, it is doubly irritating for anyone trying to suf the wave of interest and media attention that will inevitably accompany the film. In many cases, articles have been written, books are being released, TV programmes are to be aired. All these things have been solidly scheduled, and yet the film itself - the centrepiece of the effort - is jumping around the calendar. All very annoying.
That said, I think I am one of the comparatively few "in the business" who are actually looking forward to the film. Of course, it could be a stinker... Cruise's recent track record is not great, and its a subject that needs to be sensitively handled if it is to head off the barrage of criticism that seems inevitable.
The 'scientology sideshow' in Germany did not help matters, of course, but the Germans are always going to be highly sensitive about a subject which is so central to their self-image - let's face it, the Stauffenberg story is the ONLY positive that modern Germany can take from the Third Reich and World War Two - its no surprise therefore that they might be a bit prissy about it being dramatized and potentially mangled by Hollywood machine that has precious little interest in historical accuracy.
I must say that this is one of the aspects that worries me - historical accuracy. It won't worry the average cinema-goer of course, but I (as a historical anorak) really will be looking at the medals, and the uniforms, and checking that the story is correctly told. A glance at the publicity photo above does not inspire confidence - where, for instance, are Stauffenberg's medals and awards - Iron Cross (First Class), Wound Badge in Gold, German Cross in Gold - all of which would have been worn on his tunic? If anything is amiss in the film proper, my viewing experience - for one - will be rather marred.
But I think that beyond such legitimate concerns, there's also been a bit of a media whispering campaign about the film - alot of negativity. Only this last weekend, a tiny column in the Sunday Telegraph (I think) noted that clips of Tom Cruise's supposedly dreadful German accent were causing much hilarity on youtube. Well, I looked and I couldn't find them. And also, I read that the production team made a decision that no German accents were to be used on the film - except of course for those German actors, such as Christian Berkel, who would be using their natural accent. It just strikes me that there is almost a desire - probably directed towards Cruise himself, rather than the subject matter - that the film should not succeed.
So, I say - let's be positive. Cruise and Bryan Singer are proven filmmakers, the cast is good, the story is a cracker, and the trailers that I have seen on the web have been excellent.
Moreover, for all of us involved in some way with the story, it can only be of benefit that the story of Stauffenberg is better known, especially amongst a traditionally non-book-buying public. It can only be beneficial too, that the media's attention - generally eschewing history of late - will be firmly fixed on this subject.
So, bring it on. "Valkyrie", Tom Cruise, your public awaits you.

2 comments:

Minorage said...

Hi, I just quickly read your article and there is something you seem to have missed.

Germany has branded Scientology to be an 'anti-democratic movement with an criminogenic structure' (google will guide you to the documents). That is by the way, a pretty spot on description of this very very dangerous cult.

Their constitution requires them (after WW2) to pro-actively monitor and handle such organisations.

Besides historical accuracy this is a second (maybe even more important) reason why Germany was dragging its feet over Valkyre.

Colin Fraser said...

Hi Roger - if you look at the film's trailers and featurettes I think your concerns re. accuracy will be assuaged. It looks superb in terms of uniforms, medals, insognia, sets and most important of all, casting. The major players all look like their historical counterparts excpet perhaps Branagh as Tresckow - but I would give up a lookalike to get Branagh in the film! BTW - I read your book and very much enjoyed it, I have ~ 100 books on the Widerstand and yours is one of the best.

Colin Fraser