Seeing Valkyrie on opening night was one of those enjoyable experiences that makes you want to do something again. Movie-going, that is.
For starters, there was the thrill of opening night. While you could wait to rent the DVD, see the cable TV debut or find it on the internet, opening night is a chance for viewers to form their own impression of the film, rather than hear what the critics are saying. The there is the pleasure of knowing you are getting the first glimpse at something that many others want to see, and will see. Perhaps mostly, opening night is made special by the large crowd that packs the house. The crowd that came to see Valkyrie last night at a suburban Denver theater complex was genuinely pleasant, and genuinely interested in the film, judging by their reactions during the event.
All of that is second to the film itself of course, and Valkyrie lived up to its billing as a thriller. The plot line develops quickly and never strays off course. While not overbearing, the film was certainly intense. Decisions are life-and-death for the central characters, and they generally function at high levels under great pressure.
While ultimately ill-fated, the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler involved a hundred acts of a good handful of German officers and politicians making noble and incredibly brave decisions. One wishes so strongly for them to succeed, and I probably wasn’t alone in actually hoping against hope that somehow they will, that the filmmakers could have actually changed history simply by changing their movie’s ending. Alas, Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators are executed in one of the final scenes, tragically killed by the regime that would fall only nine months later.
My only criticism is that viewers might have benefited from a bit more character development of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of the plot. We never witness his transition from a presumably loyal Nazi officer to one who believes that Hitler must be stopped. Additionally, there is only one or two mention of concentration camps, and I think that a more substantive reminder of the evil being perpetrated (including his oppression of occupied-country populations) by Hitler and his henchman might have heightened the perception of the consequential nature of the story of this daring plot.
For those who enjoy action and intrigue, history and conflict and thrilling acts of heroism, I recommend Valkyrie.