Wounded in Africa during World War II, Nazi Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) returns to his native Germany and joins the Resistance in a daring plan to create a shadow government and assassinate Adolf Hitler. When events unfold so that he becomes a central player, he finds himself tasked with both leading the coup and personally killing the Führer. Bill Nighy and Eddie Izzard co-star in this drama based on actual events. Directed by Bryan Singer (Apt Pupil, Superman Returns).
Rating: 6 out of 10
The core of the story is a great one: German soldiers who rebel against Hitler’s tyrannical leadership that lead to the holocaust and WWII by attempting to kill him and form a new government.
It’s all based on a true story, and it’s one that is celebrated every year in Germany with a memorial as a testament to those who rebelled against Hitler. There are some great elements to the movie, too, which embraces the spririt of the original story and pays respect to their cause and character.
There are some thrilling action sequences and intense moments as the attempt to assassinate Hitler unfolds and we truly root for the main characters, despite knowing how it all turns out. The only thing that drags this film down is all the main characters are German, yet they have a mixed bag of American, English, German and Scottish accents. It doesn’t feel like you’re watching Germans — and this is a very patriotic film for Germans. Tom Cruise is as American as pork rinds and I never lost site of that. It was sort of silly to have only one German actor in the film and no German spoken, which doesn’t help build the believability in the movie. It’s an enjoyable action/adventure movie, just don’t expect “Inglorious Basterds.”
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)
In this silent 1920s masterpiece, an insane asylum inmate explains to his psychiatrist how he came to the institution, telling the shrink the story of the evil hypnotist Caligari (Werner Krauss) and his unwitting pawn, the sleepwalker Cesare (Conrad Veidt). This stark expressionist film from German director Robert Wiene astonishes with the power of its sets and visuals, and the creepy plot easily raises hackles on the back of one’s neck.
Rating: 10 out of 10
So you want a classic? Well, I have one for you. An oldie but very goody indeed. It is the 1919 German psychological horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” a very influential silent film full of dynamic terror and suspense. I say influential because upon watching it again I was reminded of how many current directors were and are still following the dramatic and visual uniqueness of this film. Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, Martin Scorcese and even John Carpenter (In The Mouth of Madness, anyone?) to name a few. They owe a great deal to this movie.
It involves a mental facility patient named Francis who tells his Doctor about his chilling run in with a Carnival sideshow menace, Dr Caligari, and his attraction, the Somnabulist, Cesare. What makes this story fascinating is the use of the flashback to tell the story. It is one the earliest uses of this technique and it is very effective. This practice of the flashback reveals layer upon layer of German expressionist drama. Say what you will about this film being identified as everything from propaganda, wartime angst to social commentary, but it is still bold with it’s bluish and sepia toned nightmare. The more we witness the horror of Francis’ tale unfold the more we begin to sympathize with him — but in turn question his sanity. The ending will no doubt be seen as a classic and much used plot device, but this is the 1920’s so it was very fresh then.
Before I conclude I must talk about the visual impact of the film. It is nightmarish, bizarre and disorienting. There are stark angles. There are slanted streets and windows. Characters sit on very high stools and patterns and shadows are deep and trance-inducing. The camera work is of course a bit crude but it is intense and very sublime as we delve deeper and deeper into the madness that Francis reveals to his Doctor. I recall my film professor giving us this film to watch and absorb for homework. Let’s just say that it did not feel like homework. It felt more like a revelation. Highly recommended.
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Tagged Cinema, Classic movie, Classics, Conrad Veidt, Film, Foreign Regions, Fredrich Feher, Germany, Hans Heinrich von Twardowski, horror, Horror Classics, Lil Dagover, movie, movie review, movies, Robert Wiene, Rudolf Lettinger, Silent Films, The Cabinet of Dr. Cligari, The Movie Brothers, Werner Krauss