Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Valkyrie

It is very dangerous to oppose a dictatorship. It is, in fact, heroic, and heroism is extraordinary. Ever since encountering a book about the German Resistance back in the 1960s I have admired those who plotted to overthrough the Nazi regime. I haven't seen Valkyrie - I couldn't get my mind around the idea of Tom Cruise as Stauffenburg - but I will see it. William Doino's review of the film at FIRST THINGS has persuaded me:
There really were good Germans—incredibly brave men and women who risked their lives, and even gave them, to save their country from cataclysmic ruin. There were far too few, to be sure, but it’s these people who represented Germany at its best, and should not be forgotten.

Among the noblest was Claus, Count von Stauffenberg, a Colonel who led a daring conspiracy to overthrow Hitler, and came very close to succeeding. Stauffenberg came from an aristocratic Catholic family whose love of God, Germany, and European culture led him to break with the Third Reich, after initially serving it. ....

....Historians still debate their motivations—did the conspirators betray Hitler because they feared he would lose the War, or did they act out of genuine moral passion and conscience?—but the movie, concentrating on the suspense and action sequences, really doesn’t explore them. Had it done so, they could have utilized the latest research showing that outrage against the Holocaust was a key factor in moving them. ....

...On its own terms, its an engrossing thriller—far better than the usual Hollywood fare. Moreover, apart from its artistic and entertainment value, the film has educational and moral elements, and—gratefully—avoids political correctness. Certain academics have an “unappealing habit” of dismissing the 20 July plotters as reactionaries, “while earnestly extolling the self-sacrifices of the underprivileged Communists,” to quote historian Michael Burleigh. But there are no heroic Communists in Valkyrie, and shouldn’t be: most Communists opposed to Hitler, after all, were Stalinists, who simply wanted to replace one murderous dictatorship with another. The honorable Resistance, in contrast—ranging from social democrats to conservative aristocrats—were fighting to rescue and preserve Western civilization.

Finally—and this is a pleasant surprise—one senses something Christian about this film. The messages are subtle, but they are there: a cross around Stauffenberg’s neck; a scene in a Church, with a statue of Christ looking on; references to Scripture and the Almighty ... [more]
Update 1/7: A good review of the film at Big Hollywood.

FIRST THINGS: On the Square » Blog Archive » A Worthy Conspiracy

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