This weekend I went to see the much advertised Valkyre, starring Tom Cruise. I had hoped for better. Being a Catholic and familiar with the story of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg I saw none of the torment that he felt in making his decision to commit tyrannicide. As many officers Von Stauffenburg originally was a supporter of the Nazis and Hitler in particular. As the war progressed and he realized he was a part of a giant killing machine he grew disenchanted.

The film begins with Von Stauffenburg in Africa, disputing with a General over an order received for an advance. As the scene progresses he is tragically wounded by British aircraft strafing his troops. His wounds require that he be returned to Germany to recover.

Von Stauffenburg did not enter into his attempted tyrannicide easily. His Catholic and German upbringing meant that violating his oath, even to one as evil as Hitler, difficult to accept. As Charlotte Corday did more than 100 years earlier he studied the writings of Catholic theologians. He finally arrived at the decision that in order to save the many he must do away with Hitler. this action involved treason.

Of course this film did not show any of the moral troubling of Von Stauffenburg.Tom Cruise created a mere shadow of Von Stauffenburg, he has no substance. Perhaps this film is a passive restatement of his own self. This Von Stauffenburg is a Scientologist. There is no forethought, no moral dilemma, no doubts, Tom Cruise has remade Von Stauffenburg in his own image and likeness. This is a World war II version of Mission Impossible. It failed miserably with me. Tom Cruise did not command my respect and disrespected the memory of Von Stauffenburg.

Dieu le Roy,
de Brantigny

I probably should have watched Despereaux instead...

NOTE: I should probably take a minute to say what an oath is and why not breaking one is important. When a person takes and oath he calls God to be his witness and vouch for the truthfulness of a statement or a promise. That is why breaking an oath is bad. If we break an oath we make a liar out of God by our actions.
A vow on the other hand is a promise made to God, breaking one's vows mean that we break a promise made to God. Marriage is one example of a vow, the religious life is another.
People in this age of "Rationalization" hold little stock in Oaths and vows. That is probably why so many couples who are going to be married write prenuptial agreements, they have no faith in their ability to keep a vow or be true to an oath.


Anonymous said...

Mr. de Brantigny:

I, too, have a deep interest in Colonel Graf von Stauffenberg and I have read much about him and the other German patriots. I have wanted to see Valkyrie despite the presence of Tom Cruise because of my deep admiration for Stauffenberg. I appreciate your review as you have saved me some money.

I was wondering if you have seen the documentary "The Restless Conscience" which was nominated for an Academy Award almost 20 yrs ago. This documentary, I thought, was superb, it is about the German resistance and spoke with some of the still-living survivors. It was moving and throughout the documentary, they played Mozart's Requeim. I would highly recommend it to you if you have an interested in Stauffenberg and the resistance. I used to have it on VHS but it is coming out on DVD in April of 2009.

God bless and Semper Fidelis.

Mike Yoder

de Brantigny........................ said...

Mike, It was not my intention to keep you from this movie, only not to expect any deep, thought provoking portrayal. I think Tom Cruise was a bad choice for the role. I believe it was a vehicle for his (and the next phrase is a stretch) "spiritual" beliefs.

I have not sen the film you have suggested, but I will be on tle look out for it.

There was another film advertised about jewish resistnce which I probably will find more interesting.

Semper Fidelis