World Wars and Subterfuge

Bryan Singer’s Valkyrie is actually one of many film and TV attempts to dramatize Operation Valkyrie, where Claus von Stauffenberg led a sizeable group of like-minded rebels in a plot to blow up Hitler real good with a briefcase bomb, and 1955 was the year when a pair of German directors separately tackled the assassination plot, and themes of rebellious heroes struggling within the Nazi regime.

Von Stauffenberg was part of a different and older class of soldiers who became increasingly disgusted with the evils of the Nazis, and that conflict is evident in Falk Harnack’s film, Der 20. Juli / The Plot to Assassinate Hitler, which has a youngish-Wolfgang Preiss (The Longest Day) playing von Stauffenberg. The film isn’t currently available as an English subtitled DVD in Region 1 land, so the uploaded review is admittedly derived from a familiarity with the events, and my above-average-basic grasp of German.

What’s interesting about the various dramatizations, docu-dramas and straight documentaries is that they come in clusters; no idea why, unless there’s some kind of anniversary thing, controversial book, or death of a significant participant that has filmmakers rush to their cameras and shoot film.

Released the same year as Harnack’s movie is G.W. Pabst’s Es geschah am 20. Juli / It Happened on July 20th, which had future Longest Day co-director Bernhardt Wicki starring as von Stauffenberg. Things went silent until the early seventies, until the German TV docu-dramas Claus Graf Stauffenberg (1970) and the epic two-parter Operation Walküre (1971) popped up. Then things went quiet again for 24 years, until Jo Baier’s Stauffenberg, as well as rival telefilm Die Stunde der Offiziere were released in 2004.

Baier’s telefilm is actually slated for a Region 1 release April 7th, but the rest seem to exist as either old VHS releases, or as domestic Region 2 DVDs, so it’ll be a while before we can sample alternate portrayals of the characters and event – unless of course the recent German documentary, Die wahre Geschichte (2009), changes all that.

Reviewed as part of a themed ‘war day’ is John Ottman’s score for Valkyrie from Varese Sarabande, and Laura Rossi’s new score for the classic WWI archival film, The Battle of the Somme (1916), the DVD of which is available from the Britain’s National War Museum. Also reviewed is MovieScore Media's downloadable album of Trond Bjerknes’ Max Manus (2008), a recent big budget Norwegian film about one of WWII’s most successful saboteurs. Bjerknes’ score is simply superb, and if the score is a hint of the film’s power, I hope the movie gets picked up for an English language release.

Coming very soon: a detailed blog of how cancelling one's high speed internet account with dumbell corporate champion Bell Canada is like breaking up with a clingy, needy, schizophrenic girlfriend.

A pair of friends recently experienced incredible ineptitude from amateur player Primus, but given Bell Canada is the country's biggest phone company AND they own the blasted delivery lines, they win hands down as a monster bureaucracy incapable of following through with the simple request, "Cancel my internet account."

Four cancellation confirmation numbers so far, and they just reconnected an account switched off days ago, making it impossible to move to an indie provider yet again. For international readers, I really hope you have no idea what it's like to have a big, boneheaded telecommunications giant on your block, because Dumbell Bell has no idea how to handle customers. 20 years with this giant, and they will not shut down an account as requested within their 30 day advance notice period.

Did you know German is rooted in Latin? And did you know the Latin phrase 'beat me with an idiot stick' alo spells B-e-l-l C-a-n-a-d-a in modern English?



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