US Critic Slams New Cruise Film as Soft on Nazism | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 27.12.2008
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US Critic Slams New Cruise Film as Soft on Nazism

An influential US critic on Friday blasted Tom Cruise's latest movie Valkyrie as a "Nazi apologia" in the sharpest criticism yet of the World War Two thriller. Reviews of the film overall have been mixed.

Tom Cruise as Claus von Stauffenberg in Valkyrie

Tom Cruise as Claus von Stauffenberg in "Valkyrie"

The movie, which opened in the US on Thursday, Dec. 25, features superstar Cruise as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, an aristocratic German who headed a group of top officers who hatched a plot to kill Hitler late in the war.

Roger Friedman, film critic for Fox News, said the movie appeared to intentionally minimize the impact of Nazism.

"I'm concerned that Valkyrie could represent a new trend in filmmaking: Nazi apologia. Not once in Valkyrie do any of the 'heroes' mention what's happening around them. Hitler has systemically killed millions," said Friedman.

"Valkyrie opens the door to a dangerous new thought: that the Holocaust and all the other atrocities could be of secondary important to the cause of German patriotism."

Friedman criticized the set designers for minimizing or hiding the swastikas that have become symbols of the evils of Nazism, and blasted the portrayal of Hitler as a "doddering fool with a British accent and a nice suit."

Number of bad reviews

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Reviews of this story of the failed attempt on Hitler's life have been mixed

Reviews in the US press have been mixed. Some have praised its brisk pacing and ability to create tension even though the vast majority of audience members already know the outcome.

But the film has had its detractors.

Friedman's political criticism of the movie may have been the sharpest of US reviews. but it was far from the only negative assessment.

Writing in the Washington Post, Phillip Kennicott blasted the film's puzzling failure to portray von Stauffenberg's life before his unsuccessful assassination attempt -- when he was untroubled by Nazism and served as Hitler's loyal soldier.

Kennicott also criticized the movie for failing to point out that the plot was hatched not out of moral objections to Nazism but only when Germany was facing imminent collapse.

Stauffenberg "was not a committed anti-Nazi until very late in the game," wrote Kennicott. "Many anti-Hitler conspirators weren't so much against Nazism, with its vile racial and militarist policies, as they were against Hitler's disastrous leadership of the war."

Cruise view

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Romance in "Valkyrie"

Cruise himself came close to distorting the extent of German support for Hitler and his policies.

"It's important to know that it wasn't everybody -- not everybody felt the way Hitler did or fell into the Nazi ideology," Cruise said during the film's US press tour.

"The thing that stood out to me was Stauffenburg himself and the amount of desperation and pain for him," Cruise said. "He wanted a moral country that participated in the world, not one of annihilation and Holocausts and world domination. He was a man who was able to see through all the propaganda and see how utterly insane Hitler was, and ultimately he was the one to say, 'Somebody's got to shoot that bastard.'"

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