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|Sebastian Koch||Claus von Stauffenberg|
|Hardy Krüger Jr.|
|Jo Baier||Director, Screenwriter|
|Uli Hanisch||Production Designer|
|Enjott Scneider||Score Composer|
|Ursula Welter||Costumes/Costume Designer|
Posted October 1, 2010
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