It can’t be easy creating a film based on a well known historic event. Especially if the audience already knows how it will all play out. For it to succeed therefore, it has to in a way focus less on the historical facts. Instead, it should offer us the story behind the events, even if that story may not be historically accurate. It may even be pure fiction. Case in point is the ‘Last King of Scotland’ were the rule of Idi Amin is seen through the eyes of Dr.Garrigan, a fictional character. The people we meet in this film are engaging. And even though some liberties have been taken to what actually happened, the story does give us a clear picture of how a popular and charismatic boxer turned into one of the world’s most feared dictators. Valkyrie in this sense takes a different approach and unfortunately doesn’t deliver.
As a matter of fact, I found the documentary ‘Stauffenberg, the true story’, which recalls the most famous assassination attempt on Hitler, to be a lot more interesting then the film itself. The film felt more like a remake of the documentary where the details have been replaced by cinematographically rich scenes. While the documentary did a good job of explaining the back story and the character behind Stauffenberg, Tom Cruises portrayal of him felt very cardboard like.
Other than a few hollow words said here and there, the film doesn’t really bother explaining us why Stauffenburg would risk his life and that of his wife and three children to commit a potentially treasonous act. It tells us nothing of the respect he commanded amongst his men or the suffering he had to endure after he was crippled. It simply conveys the events as they happened and we just have to accept that. The film lacks depth.
This is in total contrast to for example ‘Der Untergang‘. Despite us already knowing what happened in the last days of Hitler’s rule, it succeeded by focuses on the characters and conveying the sense of claustrophobic despair the soldiers and staff underwent in the final days of the Third Reich.
If I had to name one positive thing about this film, then it was the secretary, a role played by the Dutch actress Halina Reijn. Even though her role was small and hardly had any lines in the film, her screen presence said more about their dire situation then all the dialogs put together. It was one of the few characters one could actually care about.