image from German Federal Archive, Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2008-0922-500 / CC-BY-SA

Last night, hubby and I sat down to watch Valkyrie for the first time. This movie has been out for ages, but I tend to avoid movies I kinda know the ending to unless they’re happy. And we all know what happened to Hitler, or what didn’t happen.

Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised with this Tom Cruise number (perhaps another reason I was avoiding it?). Valkyrie tells the story of a few hundred brave German souls who dared to oppose Adolf Hitler. It focuses on four who led a few attempts to assassinate the Fuhrer with no success. This true story is fascinating, electric and exciting. It is intriguing to see Word War II through the eyes of some German people who were opposed to the actions of the Nazi party.

Yes, surprise, surprise not all Germans were Nazis. Many were ashamed of what Hitler had done to the world and to Germany. And in the middle of all this the would-be assassinator, Claus von Staffenberg. This one armed, three fingered, one eyed man was doggedly determined. Naively, I hoped Staffenberg’s bomb would go off and that Hitler would be killed. But alas, I also knew how that man died and that as much as these men tried, all their efforts would be in vain. But I still hoped that this time, history would change and the result would be very different.

I call it the ‘Valkyrie Syndrome’; the hope that a familiar story, perhaps a true story will end differently in a film. Take Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet.

I thought surely this modern version would end happily. But I was simply setting myself up for disappointment. There they were in the church, candles blazing, “O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.” And he DIES. He dies in Baz’s version, in all versions they all die. Sad. Tragic. And I know it’s going to happen, but still, my innocent eyes bulge as hope soars in my naive little heart. The romantic in me just won’t give up. That is the essence of the ‘Valkyrie Syndrome’ and I just can’t shake it. Nor do I really want to.

I tend to avoid sad, depressing, tragic stories. But sometimes, it is heartening and moving to open yourself up to a true, courageous story that lives on in German history and now in celluloid land. They have stuck it to Hitler that’s for sure. I am glad I saw this film. It was an honour to learn about these great people who tried to stop evil tearing apart their country. The documentary on the ‘features’ part of this film is a must-see as well. Watch the film, then check out the doco, it really is an entertaining and moving education of a film. Just don’t hope for too much, it will break your little heart.