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post #1 of 18 Old 06-06-09, 09:36 PM Thread Starter
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Valkyrie - DVD Review



Starring: Tom Cruise, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Written by: Christopher Quarrie, Nathan Alexander
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 121 mins
DVD Release: May 19, 2009

Not all Germans are bad people. That’s a popular theme in Valkyrie, last year’s Tom Cruise thriller closely following the 1944 plot to overthrow twentieth century supervillain Adolf Hitler. Although it’s a bit hard to believe Hollywood’s “Top Gun” poster boy as a fiercely brave one-eyed German colonel, the film is faithful to the original and rather remarkable story. Action fans will probably be disappointed by a movie that, despite its time period, boasts few Panzer explosions, but it’s a worthwhile rental nonetheless this D-Day weekend.

The film begins in 1943, a troubling time for the good ‘ol Third Reich. Hitler’s Europe, which at one time stretched from the western shores of Calais to Algeria in the south and deep into Russia in the east, was beginning to crack. The Germans had failed to cripple the will of the British people during the Battle of Britain in 1941. The next year, the Allies in North Africa halted the Germans’ advance at El Alamein, not once, but twice. Finally, and most devastatingly, the German advance into Russia, which had shown so much promise when first launched in 1941, had stalled completely. The Russians now held the upper hand, and were inflicting thousands upon thousands of casualties as they pushed the hated Wehrmact back towards Deutschland.

As the Third Reich began to fall apart, few could ignore the Fuhrer’s fumbles. Hitler, who held supreme power of his armed forces despite marginal experience as a commander, now made unforgiving demands of his generals, insisting that they ask permission for even strategic retreats. Such policies made the campaign in Russia a bitter and brutal one for the German Army, whose talented leaders began to feel, quite ironically, as if they’d been “stabbed in the back.”

And so there arose a number of plots to remove the Fuhrer from power. Although there were dozens of attempts to do so by lethal force, Valkyrie focuses upon the more elaborate coup attempt of Claus von Stauffenberg, a highly-reputable colonel who in 1943 was scarred for life when a British spitfire strafed his jeep, leaving him minus one eye, one hand, and with just three fingers attached to his remaining palm. Doctors were amazed at his speedy recovery and the way he managed to resume a fairly normal existence despite his incredible handicap. Stauffenberg was certainly a determined man; one gets the impression he realized that Germany’s war was not going to improve with him laying helpless in a Tunisian hospital bed.

The plot, called Valkyrie, goes something like this: Stauffenberg and his group of co-conspirators, including a number of high-ranking political and military officials tired of the bumbling and arrogant Nazi party, would plant a briefcase-bound bomb in the Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s main headquarters on the eastern front. Stauffenberg would place the device near Hitler’s feet during a briefing with other members of his inner circle (including, they hoped, “Final Solution” mastermind Heinrich Himmler). After the expected explosion, an inside man would cut all communications between Berlin and the Wolf’s Lair, while Stauffenberg’s colleagues put into action “Valkyrie,” which called for the immediate replacement of Hitler upon his death. The militia would be put on alert and subsequently commanded to seize critical government locations while arresting members of Hitler’s inner circle and the SS, including Goering, Goebbels, and Speer. Interestingly, Valkyrie was official policy signed by Hitler himself. The Fuhrer, it seems, was not a fan of the fine print.

This is a fantastic premise for a film and for the most part Valkyrie, unlike Stauffenberg’s plan, does not totally disappoint. However, I couldn’t help but wish that someone else, preferably the people responsible for 2004’s excellent Der Untergang, or “Downfall,” would have beaten Hollywood to the script. Cruise isn’t much of a Nazi, which is to his credit, but not the film’s. It’s virtually impossible to buy America’s favourite sofa-jumping scientologist in the role of a deeply scarred, hardened veteran intent on wrestling back the respect of the German people from an intensely troubled dictator. Like several other stars involved in this project (including blowhard Tom Wilkinson as General Friedrich Fromm), Cruise doesn’t even bother with the obligatory British accent for films of this kind. As a result, this movie feels like a mish-mash of different styles and personalities, rather out of step for a society where uniformity was a crucial part of not only the lifestyle, but survival. I just didn’t buy the acting in this film and that hurts the atmosphere; this feels too much like a brainless summer blockbuster, rather than a sneak peek into the sinister (and yet obnoxiously fascinating) Third Reich. Several other actors found right here probably could have done a better job than Cruise, including Kenneth Branagh, or better yet, Thomas Kretchmann, who really deserves a prominent leading role sooner or later.

Still, Cruise brings some star power to a film with noble intentions. Although I’ve studied my fair share of Second World War art and literature, I certainly never appreciated the depth of this particular plot or the commitment of many Germans to remove Hitler from power. It’s fascinating to sit for a moment and ponder what things might have been like had Stauffenberg succeeded. Would the Germans have negotiated a peace treaty? Would they have become a more effective fighting unit, prolonging the war? One thing is for sure: they would have changed the collective memory of the Second World War for Germany and for the world in the decades following its eventual conclusion.

Valkyrie is a fantastic story averagely acted out. Although the extent of the plot to remove Hitler will stun many viewers (and rightly so), with more believable lead roles this could have been a much more memorable film.

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post #2 of 18 Old 06-08-09, 10:39 AM
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Re: Valkyrie Review

Good review. I plan on renting the movie soon and checking it out to compare it to
the Brad Davis TV version ("The Plot to Kill Hitler" 1990) which I've already seen. I've read
countless World War II books and for a while was an afficianado of what occured worldwide
in the thirties and forties. The villains, as I see it, were not specific ethnicities but 'statism'
as a model for government. Abosolute power without any checks and balances centralized
in a single person or party always results in misery, tyranny and mass murder. I wish I could
say that Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Horohito were unique but they merely represented what
'statists' could do with 20th Century technology. And, of course, anyone who dared oppose
statists within their society had guts and integrity regardless of their fate.

The 'what if' speculation is always interesting to ponder. Had they successfully killed
Hitler, the new government probably would've negotiated for a peace settlement with
the allies that allowed Germany to keep the territory they lost in the first World War which was the original goal before Hitler and Stalin agreed to carve up Poland which started the conflict. On the other hand the power vacuum might've caused the Reich to collapse from within because Hitler had no successor lined up in the event of his death. Many of his military factions signed loyalty oaths to him personally rather than the country. A very
precarious way to sustain his proposed thousand year government.

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post #3 of 18 Old 06-27-09, 06:17 PM
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Re: Valkyrie Review

I watched this last night. I liked it alot. This film had great bass too! There was a couple scenes in the beginning where bombing was taking place, and the bass was great.
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post #4 of 18 Old 07-29-09, 07:23 PM
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Re: Valkyrie Review

Well I finally saw this film. I thought it was okay. Worth a single screening if you're not
familiar with this part of World War II history. I thought it was more detailed than the
Brad Davis version. Not necessarily better. Acting, cinematography and sound were
acceptable.

The actor playing Hitler looked like him and I wish there was more footage with him.
Rather than have him rant continuously, they played it more realistically with the
dictator at times calm but other times breaking into one of his volatile rages. Most
depictions of the dictator show him yelling all the time but he had many personas
he utilized to manipulate people. There's an interesting documentary about Hitler's
secretary who has a completely different perspective since he treated some of his
close staff much better than others.

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post #5 of 18 Old 07-30-09, 01:19 PM
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Re: Valkyrie Review

Just like many who?? Plotted to have J.F. Kennedy, assassinated maybe we still don’t know the truth.

I found Valkyrie deeply depression towards the middle act of the plot as the briefing was held in hut rather than the bucker where the force of the explosion would be more contained and fatal, to do in Hitler along with his bent twisted men whom where just as evil.

Yet its still incredible to believe so many foiled attempts before and only minor scratch. and yet the coward finally committed suicide.

As for the explosive sound effect on the hut it was what it was and sounded fine, it wasn’t on the level to exceed Superman Returns where that film was different animal altogether.

Nice review on it Brando.

Quote:
wheatenterrier wrote: View Post
I watched this last night. I liked it alot. This film had great bass too! There was a couple scenes in the beginning where bombing was taking place, and the bass was great.





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post #6 of 18 Old 07-30-09, 02:49 PM
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Re: Valkyrie Review

Actually, the reason Hitler committed suicide was because he was afraid of suffering
the same fate as Mussolini whose body was mutilated by the Italians once they realized
what he had done to the country. The Italian fascist was hung by his feet and beaten
along with his mistress. Even if Hitler had escaped Berlin by plane like Boorman this
might have been his fate.

Of course the surviving Nazi leaders were put on trial in Nuremberg, one of the few
remaining buildings that had not been demolished. The problem with that trial was
that Stalin was standing in judgment of the Germans when his regime was equally
as brutal and oppressive. Statists condemning statists. The Nazis did get what they
deserved and most were hung but the Stalinists got away with their crimes.

One of the mysteries that was never resolved was the Rudolf Hess case which would
make an interesting movie too. In 1941 Hitler told his deputy Hess to fly
to England and try to negotiate a peace with England so he could concentrate on
the attack on Russia. His arrived there but Churchill had him arrested and confined
in a prison for the rest of his life. Later, fellow Nazis noted he was a completely
different person. Almost like a Hess double.

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post #7 of 18 Old 07-30-09, 03:31 PM
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Re: Valkyrie Review

Quote:
Richard W. Haines wrote: View Post
Actually, the reason Hitler committed suicide was because he was afraid of suffering
the same fate as Mussolini whose body was mutilated by the Italians once they realized
what he had done to the country. The Italian fascist was hung by his feet and beaten
along with his mistress. Even if Hitler had escaped Berlin by plane like Boorman this
might have been his fate.


Of course the surviving Nazi leaders were put on trial in Nuremberg, one of the few
remaining buildings that had not been demolished. The problem with that trial was
that Stalin was standing in judgment of the Germans when his regime was equally
as brutal and oppressive. Statists condemning statists. The Nazis did get what they
deserved and most were hung but the Stalinists got away with their crimes.

One of the mysteries that was never resolved was the Rudolf Hess case which would
make an interesting movie too. In 1941 Hitler told his deputy Hess to fly
to England and try to negotiate a peace with England so he could concentrate on
the attack on Russia. His arrived there but Churchill had him arrested and confined
in a prison for the rest of his life. Later, fellow Nazis noted he was a completely
different person. Almost like a Hess double.
So he could have strung up and beating like rag doll by the German people what a petty, after all the demonstrable things that person instructed to have done to the 6 million Jews. I mean you’d have to be certifiable nutcase to go that far.
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post #8 of 18 Old 07-30-09, 07:59 PM
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Re: Valkyrie Review

Hitler targeted many others too. He killed millions of Poles, about 20 million Russians and about half a
million of his own people. The slaughter started when he considered the elderly to be 'useless
eaters'...namely they could no longer serve the state which was the only reason for existence
in a Statist system. So he murdered thousands of the elderly. Later he set up the concentration
camp system for political opponents, clergy who opposed him, gypsies, and
Jews. Initially they were slave labor camps for his munitions businesses. Then when the war went bad for him Hitler decided on the final solution to mass murder anyone he considered inferior or threatened his
regime. People like Shindler objected to this policy change since slave labor was integral to the Nazi
war machine. If you killed everyone in the camps, who would be left to work the factories?
One of the many disastrous decisions Hitler made that guaranteed he would
lose the war. What many people don't know is that for the first half of the war,
Hitler kept his country on a peace time economy in large part to keep the German
people from knowing what he was up to. Even though he was a totalitarian dictator,
he was very concerned with public opinion. He rarely put his orders in writing so that
the attrocities committed by the SS and Gestapo would not have his signature on it
and he would have plausible denial in the event the German citizens found out.


Conversely, England and Russia had mobilized prior to the war and were better prepared for it. Hitler assumed he would easily win after the Blitzkrieg and Operation Barbarosa and indeed it seemed as if both England and Russia had fallen early on. However, they refused to acknowledge they were defeated and began counter attacks which put him into a two front war with no end in sight and without a war time economy for this surprise development. By the time Germany was mobilized,
it was too late. What kept FDR in power for four terms was the full mobilization before Pearl Harbor. After the fall
of France, FDR instituted the draft and began the war time economy to replace the New Deal formula. The reason
was twofold. He wanted to get into the conflict on the side of England. The second was to increase
employment since his Keynesian policies had not worked and were not sustainable. There were still millions
of people unemployed. There wasn't anything 'new' about the New Deal. All FDR did in
was to expand the welfare state and public works projects started by Hoover. These were
astronomically expensive and while it kept the unemployed busy it continued to force more and
more small businesses to fold. Then and now small businesses were the major private sector
employers. You hurt them and you undermine the overall economy. Increased
taxation (up to 91 % above $200,000) prevented any new businesses from starting. So the
war time economy created the full employment needed to get us out of the Depression but
that was not sustainable after the war unless the Fed wanted to keep us in a perpetual
war somewhere to justify it. We're very lucky Truman brought us back into a market economy
after 1945 rather than revive the New Deal Keynesian formula. Unfortunately, the lingering
legacy of the New Deal continued afterwards, namely, taxing income to subsidize the
Federal government. Prior to that, the Fed's budget was based on business taxes and
foreign and domestic imports. They were forced to work within their means which was indexed
to our gross national product which acted as a checks and balances from reckless Federal
spending. In contrast the New Deal (and later Great Society) formula was...if it moves tax it...
if it stops moving subsidize it. But the math doesn't work out in the long run.


It's always interesting to look at wars from an economic perspective. To a large extent, economics indicate
who will win. Hitler had no understanding of economics which doomed his short lived Reich. Slave labor is
not a reliable force to win an offensive war. Stalin understood nothing about economics either but he was
fighting a defensive rather than offensive conflict and of course we helped subsize our allies after we joined the
conflict. FDR knew little about economics but there were a number of huge corporations that revived the economy
once we were involved and our industrial might was still greater than any other country. The Fed also created
a cost plus 7 % formula for any company making war time equipment. In other words the Fed guaranteed them
the cost of their operation (which of course they exagerated) plus a minimum 7 percent profit. Not a long term
remedy but it worked temporarily. Naturally all businesses were still under the control of the Fed since raw
materials were rationed but those with clout could circumvent various New Deal restrictions and regulations.
The reason the film business was 'allowed' to survive is because they agreed to make propaganda films for
the government and like all federal contracts, the moguls overcharged them.
There was one holdout which was Disney but FDR had the Army occupy his studio to
force him to comply. Ironically, the propaganda movies he was forced to make probably
helped keep his studio afloat at the time because Walt's cartoon features took years
to make which meant his product line was limited. Disney's coerced war time propaganda
films were pulled from release after the conflict but were released on DVD in a box set which
is quite interesting. It's called, "Walt Disney Treasures: On the Front Line" and contains "Victory
Through Air Power" which was a smash hit at the time but hadn't been seen for sixty years. Air
power is what saved England during the "Battle of Britain" and Churchill noted it was an important
film for British morale. Check it out if you're a WWII history afficiando like me.


The other thing Hitler did to destroy his country was foolishly declaring war on the US after
Pearl Harbor. With the America siding with England and the French and Polish exile governments,
Germany's fate was hopeless from then on. His generals realized the war was unwinnable at that
point in time which is why the assassination attempts began. Hitler was a bad commander in
chief too since he ignored his generals and only had experience as a Corporal in WWI. FDR
wisely let Eisenhower direct the conflict setting goals but allowing him to both handle the troops
and act as the diplomat to mediate British and Russian interests. There's no question FDR was
a great leader in this regard even though his domestic policies were disastrous.



Let's not leave Stalin and Mao out of the mix if you want classify the worst mass
murderers of all time. They actually had higher body counts. The worst butchers of the 20th
Century in order of how many they killed were Mao, Stalin and Hitler. All of them dictatorships
of the far Left. Hitler was a dictatorship of the Left as the party name, "National Socialist", implies.
For partisan reasons some people call it a Right wing dictatorship but it wasn't. Right wing dictators
are military tyrants and don't pose as populists or labor advocates as the Nazi's did. They were
known as the "German Worker's Party" and promised all kinds of work benefits like full employment
which was the same rhetoric of populists then and now. No government can promise things like that
since market forces always determine the cost of goods and the mark up for resale which in turn
reflects in the labor force required to operate any business. Once in power, the Nazis renegged
on all of the promises despite the efforts of Goebbels to suggest otherwise with his media
propaganda.



The major difference between the three is Hitler was elected then dismantled the democratic Weimar
Republic. (Technically his party was elected and he was appointed Chancellor by Hindenberg but
the Germans were voting for him as the head of the Nazi platform). Stalin and Mao seized power and
were never elected.

Hitler's regime was a combination of Mussolini and Stalin's socio-political formulas It wasn't original. After acquiring power, Hitler killed Rohm and the Brownshirts who got him elected to avoid any competition just as Stalin killed the original Lenin Politburo after he took over. The Nazi salute was derived from the Roman salute as was the goose step.


Both Hitler and Stalin had supporters in the USA. Paul Robeson was a Stalinist and even
wrote the eulogy for the dictator when he died. Joseph Kennedy was a notorious Nazi
sympathizer. Activists persuaded the Postal Service to create a Robeson stamp even
though the singer renegged his US citizenship and swore allegance to the Soviet dictator.

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post #9 of 18 Old 07-31-09, 07:14 AM
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Re: Valkyrie Review

I’ve seen the history channel around friends or have seen few films based on the (horrific war crime atrocities to humanity).

The more I read now and then the more I loss my appetite.

I’d have to credit these Germans that opposed and stood up to what Hitler, was doing, with their bravery because they knew if caught they wouldn’t be shown an ounce of pity, which is what the film showed, no trail just executed in the courtyard.

Tell you one thing thou (not to drift off) that film The Boys From Brazil (1978) now that was creepy the theme I mean of cloning a Hitler, genetic gene tampering and cloning makes my skin crawl it does.

One other thing I mentioned History channel, Youtube as dozen or so based on the plot which goes into a bit more depth I think in lesser time than then film?

Churchill was going to gas Germany after several flying bomb raids on London and a general opposed to the use of gas weapons, smart move.

When I ask my dad what it was like he doesn’t go into much detail apart from hearing bombs dropping in distance and “eating bread batter and jam” as that was all my dads family had at the time.

The Communist Party United States America (CPUSA) wasn’t that where a load of Hollywood directors produces where questioned in late 1940’s early 50’s.

I have to laugh at the way they are labelled as butchers I mean its not like they are going to be prised for their brilliance in war tactics because that was not war. It was genocide anyway you slice it.

Finalizing my last thoughts (on war crimes) that still go on today and we needed rehash the last few years, we all know of the country and it makes me sick that such people can be so evilly twisted.

Rich, I see from profile that you’re into the whole culture history thing.

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post #10 of 18 Old 07-31-09, 07:53 AM
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Re: Valkyrie Review

Yes I am a film historian but when I research the subject by default I have to research
history in general to put movies into their cultural context. I'm not referring to
propaganda films like the anti-Nazi Warner Brothers cartoons but the links that all movies have
to the political stakes in their era. Sometimes those links are lost over time as was mentioned
in the post on the upcoming Blu Ray of MASH. When MASH was released it was seen as a parable
of the Vietnam war but today it's perceived as an anarchic comedy spoofing military beaurocracy.


You mentioned the "Hollywood Ten" which is a very controversial subject. What actually occured in
the late forties in La La Land is quite different than the current conventional wisdom that
depicts communists as good guys and those that opposed them as bad guys. The political
stakes were quite complex. This much the partisans always get wrong. Joseph McCarthy
had absolutely nothing to do with the Hollywood blacklist. He was a Senator and it was the
House of Representatives that investigated Soviet infiltration into the unions and guilds. The
HUAC investigations pre-dated McCarthy's Wheeling Speech and Army/McCarthy hearings.
But many of those on the Left like to link him even though they lose all credibility when they do.
I have researched this subject extensively and have a pretty good idea what happened. Not sure
I should get into it here because it angers so many people. I will recommend a very good book on
that subject called "Hollywood Party" by Kenneth Billingsley. It gives a comprehensive account of
the turmoil and reads like a spy novel although it's historical fact not fiction.


FDR ordered the movie studios to produce pro-Soviet propaganda films while
Stalin was an ally during the conflict. Those involved in the productions were later taken
to task during the HUAC hearings which in those specific cases was a bum rap. Roosevelt
also had his own personal filmmaker named Pare Lorentz who made government sponsored
films to advance his New Deal agenda. In other words public funds were used for government
propaganda and perception management. This predated his demand on the studios to make
pro-war agit-prop. Pretty outlandish what FDR got away with at the time.
That would never pass scrutiny today. Harry Truman, FDR's successor, took the opposite
approach and rather than accomodate Stalin, he confronted him with the Berlin airlift which
began the containment policy and Cold War. For those who like to play the 'what if' game...
imagine what would've happened had FDR retained Henry Wallace as his VP. Wallace ended
up running as a progressive/socialist in later elections and had he ended up as President after
the death of FDR, the Soviets would've expanded their territory to a far greater degree and
probably won the Cold War. The New Deal central control over society would've become permanent
and the Fed would've been in dictatorial control of the economy from then on rather than returning
to a market economy under Truman. Even after the GOP took over Congress in the late forties,
it took years to get rid of government rationing of items like sugar. What's interesting to note
is that while the Fed rationed sugar, there were massive shortages for industry, the military and
consumers. When the rationing ended, there was enough for everybody because market forces
came into play. The Senator who proposed an end to sugar rationing was Joseph McCarthy which
gave him positive public exposure before he demagoged anti-communism which put him at odds
with the Eisenhower administration's handling of that crisis.



Backing up a bit, it's interesting to note that while Goebbels took over the German film industry,
not all movies fell into the propaganda category. Some were just entertainment without any
political spin. The 1943 German version of "Munchhausen" is actually quite good and
innovative. It's available on DVD and I met the people who tracked down the negative
and restored it. It was in Agfacolor which was later stolen by the allies after the war and became
Eastmancolor which eventually replaced the far superior Technicolor process. Goebbels envisioned
it as the German answer to "The Wizard of Oz" and with the potential to re-issue it to the US
after the war so he didn't want material that would offend Americans in it. Now how dillusional is
that? I met a man who was exporting American movies to Germany through 1941. Our films were
very popular there and Hitler had a private screening room where he would watch American movies
which he was a fan of. Apparently he told his personal filmmaker, Leni Reifenstahl, to copy Busby
Berkeley's choreography for "The Triumph of the Will" and sure enough, you can see that influence
in that film. I met Reifenstahl in the eighties when she was trying to market some of her other films
like "Tiefland".

Stalin was also an American movie buff and had a private theater to screen those movies.
There's a weird movie about Stalin's projectionist starring Tom Hulse called "The Inner Circle"
from 1991. Check it out. It's a curio. Suffice it to say, neither Mao, Hitler nor Stalin considered
themselves evil men. They believed they were the "Messiahs" of their respective countries
and ethnicities and they conned large portions of their populace into believing it too.


So there's trivia to ponder when watching movies about these subjects.


"The Boys from Brazil" was a good book and movie. And today the premise of cloning is less
far fetched than at the time. However, the reality of cloning is that if they could do it with
a human that doesn't mean they would be the same as they were in the era they were
born in. Hilter, Stalin and Mao were products of the environment and conflicts of their
decades. In theory, if you brought them up in a completely different environment and
with a different worldview, they wouldn't have committed the attrocities they did within
their culture which is noted in the movie. A German youth in the thirties and forties
would have no choice but to join the "Hilter Youth" and be brainwashed into that worldview.
However, the same youth brought up in America would have a completely different perspective
and not commit the attrocities that the Nazis did. So the historical lesson here is to be very
careful what you teach impressionable children since the worldview they are brought up in
will affect their behavior as adults.

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