Operation Valkyrie (2004) starring Sebastian Koch, Ulrich Tukur, Hardy Krüger Jr., Christopher Buchholz, Nina Kunzendorf, Stefania Rocca directed by Jo Baier Movie Review

Operation Valkyrie (2004)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Sebastian Koch in Operation Valkyrie (2004) (aka: Stauffenberg)

The Hitler Plot

The chances are that if you mention "Valkyrie" to people these days they are just as likely to mention the Tom Cruise movie rather than exactly what Operation Valkyrie was. The irony of this is that Cruise's "Valkyrie" was by no means the first movie to dramatize the July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler some of which I have seen. One of those movies is the German made TV movie "Operation Valkyrie" or "Stauffenberg" as it is also known which whilst not the best dramatization of the events actually works for those with scant knowledge of the assassination attempt. And whilst a German movie the version I saw was dubbed in English, not perfectly but done well enough to make it easy to follow.

"Operation Valkyrie" actual starts in 1933 as we witness Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (Sebastian Koch) asking Nina (Nina Kunzendorf) to marry him before then leaping forward to Claus serving during the war, seeing the treatment of Jews and events when he transfers to the African front where he loses an eye and his hand in an aerial attack. It's a strange opening which attempts to build Stauffenberg's character but fails to do so other than establishing that as a patriot he fears for Germany under Hitler's control. What follows on from there builds to the 20th July and then takes us through the events of that day from Stauffenberg flying to Wolfsschanze for a military conference to the initiation of Operation Valkyrie after the bomb he planted explodes.

Udo Schenk as Hitler in Operation Valkyrie (2004) (aka: Stauffenberg)

Now for me "Operation Valkyrie" is not the best movie adaptation of those events, it fails to build character depth and drama, rarely generating any true atmosphere or sense of imminent doom. But then as it works its way through the events of that day giving us a timeline it works as a good starter movie giving the watcher a walk through of what happened and why. It makes those not aware of the story aware and ready for a more dramatic version which embellishes on this basic knowledge.

And to be honest whilst the English dubbing sometimes wasn't that great for a TV movie "Operation Valkyrie" looks like it wouldn't have been out of place on the big screen. It isn't the most action packed version, sticking mainly to re-enacting what happened but the scene where we witness Stauffenberg being injured in Africa is quite impressive. In fact whilst limited on action with a lot of drama taking place inside of buildings "Operation Valkyrie" is visually impressive and authentic looking.

As for the acting, well to be honest I had barely heard of any of the actors in "Operation Valkyrie" before, recognizing the names Krüger and Buchholz as the sons of two famous actors. But not really knowing any of them wasn't a problem as the acting was solid especially from Sebastian Koch as Stauffenberg, he does a good job of making the character likeable with out making him unbelievable.

What this all boils down to is that "Operation Valkyrie" is not the greatest movie which dramatizes the events of July 20th 1944 but it is a good starting block for those who have no knowledge of what happened. It does a solid job of delivering a timeline of events of that day even if it does end up struggling to create atmosphere.