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Valkyrie - Preview

Valkyrie

Preview by Jack Foley

THERE’S a lot riding on Valkyrie, a new Second World War drama from Twentieth Century Fox starring Tom Cruise and a heavyweight who’s who of British thesps.

Given Cruise’s presence, a sizeable box office hit is anticipated, while the film’s release date – mid-January (21) – places it in the middle of the Oscar race. But then given that Bryan (The Usual Suspects/X-Men) Singer is directing, and the likes of Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Terrence Stamp and Tom Wilkinson all co-star, why shouldn’t we anticipate an awards buzz to boot.

Cruise stars as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg in Valkyrie, which is based on the powerful true story of the daring and ingenious plot to eliminate Adolf Hitler before the war is lost to Germany.

A proud military man, Colonel von Stauffenberg is a loyal officer who loves and serves his country, all the while hoping that someone will find a way to stop Hitler before Europe and Germany are destroyed.

Realising that time is running out, he decides that he must take action himself and break his oath of allegiance, joining the German resistance.

Armed with a cunning strategy to use Hitler’s own emergency plan – known as Operation Valkyrie – these men plot to assassinate the dictator and overthrow his Nazi government from the inside.

With everything in place, with the future of the world, the fate of millions and the lives of his wife and children hanging in the balance, Stauffenberg is thrust from being one of many who oppose Hitler to the one who must kill Hitler himself.

Valkyrie was shot in Germany at various locations where many of the actual events occurred, including the historic Bendlerblock.

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Production of the film hit the headlines in the summer of 2007, when German officials reportedly spoke out publicly against Cruise’s Scientology and initially refused to allow filming in the Bendlerblock.

While there were also reports of a stunt team being injured when a lorry over-turned during the shooting of a chase sequence.

Cruise, though, remains bullish and – when speaking to US magazine Entertainment Weekly about the Scientology aspect of the pre-shooting controversy – said: ‘‘I’ve been through stuff like this on movies, and it’s part of the process. ‘You always go: “Oh, boy, that could’ve been [handled] better.”

“ But the important thing is we did get to shoot in the Bendlerblock and make the movie we wanted to make.’‘

Singer, too, is used to having to shoot under the glare of the media spotlight and calmly dismissed speculation that the film’s rapidly changing release dates had anything to do with problems on set. And even though anyone with a solid view of history will know what became of the plot, Singer maintains that – like Apollo 13 before it – audiences will still be on the edge of their seat.

Get ready to be perched there when the film opens on January 21, 2009. Check out the poster or watch the trailer