After a year of Sturm and Drang in Germany surrounding Tom Cruise’s World War II movie “Valkyrie,” local critics have largely embraced the finished film.
In a sign of the anticipation and trepidation that surrounds the project — which tells the story of a failed assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler — local critics rushed to opine on “Valkyrie” immediately after the film’s world premiere in New York this week.
“Maybe not the masterpiece we might have dreamed of ... but not much less,” said Tobias Kniebe of broadsheet Sueddeutsche Zeitung, a sentiment shared by many of his comrades.
Controversy has dogged “Valkyrie” and Cruise — who plays would-be Hitler assassin Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg — from the start. In addition to reports, real and rumored, of on-set mishaps, shooting bans and lawsuits, there was a firestorm of protest in the German media. Most of it centered on Cruise’s association with the Church of Scientology and whether he could be trusted with the Stauffenberg story.
“Mr. Cruise go home!” bellowed Stauffenberg’s son Berthold Graf Stauffenberg in one infamous headline.
Now the tone has changed. While there have been some nasty reviews — “with his performance, Tom Cruise has finally destroyed his reputation as an actor” sniped one Berlin critic — the majority have applauded “Valkyrie” as both as a history lesson and as a film.
And while Stauffenberg’s son hasn’t yet given his verdict, his sister, Konstanze von Schulthess-Rechberg, who attended the New York premiere, declared the film “a success.”
“Valkyrie” opens wide in the United States on Dec. 25 and in Germany on Jan. 22.