A slice of Hitler’s history
Cinema Bryan Singer’s ‘Valkyrie,’ slated for 2008 summer release, unfolds the failed assassination attempt against Hitler
Shakespeare wrote “The evil that men do, lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones,” these words could refer to historical figures such as Adolf Hitler.
Nazi Germany was vanquished in 1944 and Hitler apparently killed himself, but the world cannot forget him. Films, books, articles, documentaries on Hitler show people’s endless fascination for him. Even today, TV channels such as History or Discovery continue to telecast programmes on the German dictator.
Focus of the media
Nothing about Hitler escaped media attention — his life, career, background, death, sexual abilities or the lack of it and the captivating question about his allure that enabled him to sway an intelligent, disciplined nation like Germany. Even people close to him or against him were subjects of interest. After surviving several bomb attacks by disgruntled army officers, Hitler (towards the end of his life) began to smell real and imaginary conspiracies and assassination attempts against him.
The real conspiracies and assassination attempts are now part of history and some of them have been made into films. ‘Valkyrie’ is yet another World War II thriller and deals with the least known but well-documented conspiracy to kill Hitler, in what came to be known as the July 20 plot.
Slated for 2008 summer release, ‘Valkyrie’, a United Artists Entertainment LDC production, will be shot at locations in Germany. The true story is being directed by Bryan Singer (‘The Usual Suspects,’ ‘Superman Returns’ and ‘X-Men’), while Christopher McQuarrie (‘The Usual Suspects,’ ‘The Way of the Gun’) has joined hands with Nathan Alexander for the screenplay.
The studio staged a coup by bagging Tom Cruise to play the lead, Colonel Claus Von Stauffenberg, the aristocratic German officer, who, disillusioned with Hitler, led the heroic attempt to bring down the Nazi regime and end the war by planting a bomb in Hitler’s bunker.
One of the most outstanding soldiers of the Reich, Colonel Stauffenberg, severely wounded on the African war front, returned home, and was persuaded to join the German resistance which believed that Germany, under Hitler, was fighting a hopeless war which had brought horrific suffering to its people. Operation ‘Valkyrie’ was the complex plan to assassinate Hitler, form a shadow government and negotiate a respectable peace with the Allies. Originally Col. Stauffenberg was only a part of Operation ‘Valkyrie.’
But circumstances and unexpected developments thrust him into a central, double-edged role. He must now not only lead the coup, but take over power and also kill Hitler.
There are different historical interpretations as to why the plot failed. Perhaps, it was sheer luck. At the last moment, someone accidentally shifted the briefcase with the bombs to another position, away from Hitler. It did explode but Hitler escaped with minor injuries.
The Colonel had already left the scene after placing the suitcase in the conference room. He flew to Berlin where, under the impression that the coup had succeeded, he announced a takeover. Soon he learnt the truth. Stauffenberg and the officials involved in the coup were arrested, tried and hanged.
In the bloody purge which followed, more than 5,000 people, many of them innocent, were executed. It was one of the bloodiest chapters of Nazi rule.
Once studio heads read the screenplay, there was no hesitation in approving it. There is no doubt that ‘Valkyrie’ will be one of the major MGM releases in 2008. The film will also explain how the propaganda machinery of Goebbels worked overtime after the coup, even with the Allied troops marching into Germany, to convince the people about the Hitler’s invincibility.