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Friday
Jan092009

In Which We Can Look Forward To A Nazi Spring

Work Is Free

by Lauren Bans

Valkyrie

dir. Bryan Singer

The majority of Nazi movies fall into two concentrated camps.

There's the benevolent Nazi film wherein the Nazi conspirer (think: Schindler, Muntze in 2007's Black Book) is, by mid-movie, just a really great guy, the kind you can take to dinner with your parents—attractive and righteous, with, albeit, a weaker jawline than his evil compatriots and soulful puppy dog eyes.

Sure he fell into the wrong group of friends in the beginning, maybe even committed a few minor transgressions -- stole some jewelry from the ghetto, open-hand slapped a prisoner. But there was pity in his eyes. PITY IN HIS EYES! We all forgave Mark Wahlberg, didn't we?

By film's end, the Good Nazi has saved like a gazillion c-campers, and even your survivor grandparents have learned to love him.

Then there's the opposing archetype, the classic Nazi devil. He eats Jew baby tartare for breakfast. He colors a little concentration camp girl in red during a black and white movie just so he can shoot her from the window like a game of Duck Hunt. If you're a hot Jewess in disguise and you accidentally utter "oy vey" upon climax, his lizard eyes will flick upward and he'll choke you during intercourse, in the most non-erotic, murderous kind of way.

Which is just to point out that most Nazi characters are severely underdeveloped as result of being relegated to purely good or purely evil roles.

I can say this because Good hasn't come out yet and The Night Porter evades Nazi typecasting through S&M and belongs firmly in genre of Films That Could Kill My Grandparents.

Directed by Bryan Singer (below), Tom Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenburg, a Fucking. Good. Nazi. Too good even to speak with a German accent.

He is a hero of German history, and to be a hero one must obviously possess a true American heart. Even his thetans, which normally stay politically neutral, are rabidly anti-Hitler.

The defeat of the movie is that it never explains why Stauffenburg or any other of the in-party dissenters are so against Hitler, it merely reenacts history with more attractive people.

Sure, sometime mid-movie Cruise throws in an offhand line about shutting down the concentration camps to win the hearts and minds of the American audience. But this isn't a movie about the Jews in WWII, thank gawd, because 9 out of 10 Jewish dentists hate Tom Cruise.

Rather it tries to be Mission Impossible, abusing the Nazi Germany setting for its built-in bad guys. Only it's so freaking boring and slow-moving that it's more like Mission Impossible: Did The Guy On My Left Just Slip A Date Rape Drug Into My Coke Zero?

I swear to god at one point they replayed slow motion footage of Tom Cruise getting dressed from A Few Good Men and photoshopped in the German insignia.

True, true fact: When Stauffenburg exploded Hitler's meeting in 1944, the blast was so intense that it literally blew Hitler's pants off of him. Since Singer was going for a PG-13 rating, he took creative liberties and tapped actor Seth Rogen to play the part of the Furher's penis.

rogey

Rogen slimmed down for the role, telling US Weekly, "I exercised and I dieted. Before my meetings with Bryan I did a lot of research. Apparently Hitler's penis was very slim, a kind of terse, stoic dick, but never cowering. I roleplayed a lot with my girlfriend's vagina. I wanted to be ready to shoot from Day One."

It's more interesting to look at the plot of Valkyrie as Tom Cruise self-consciously acting out his career. That's why sometimes you can see his signature inner gleam poking through his terrible performance.

When Cruise looks at Wagner's Valkyrie record spinning on the record player and the idea for the perfect assassination plot suddenly lays itself out before him, it's Risky Business: the peak of his virility, the time when nothing could go wrong.

Later, when the plan is carried out, and Cruise is sweating balls, leaving his explosive-packed briefcase a few feet away from the Furher, and then insisting, despite reports to the contrary, that "Hitler is dead! I saw the blast! HITLER IS DEAD!", well that's like his 2005 charade on Oprah's couch. You know by the crazy fervor in his eyes, it's all over.

From there, it's just another 30 minutes of boring panning shots of SS troops being arrested and released until it's time for Cruise's execution. At time of death, people were already wearing "Free Katie" shirts.

Lauren Bans is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her blog is here. She last wrote in these pages about Australia.


"Vampire Blues" - Neil Young (mp3)

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PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

It's really better this way.

The blue streak.

Whether there's too many people in the world.

Try explaining Hitler to a kid. George Carlin

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Reader Comments (2)

The Colonel Klink before/after is great.

But, it raises the question, what of the bumbling, goofy Nazi? Klink and Schultz, Chaplin as the Great Dictator, Benito Mussolini (he had an underdocumented penchant for pie gags, born of his youthful summers spent in a commedia dell'arte sleepaway camp), all barely competent, yet still malevolent fascists.

I bet there was one in slaughterhouse V, too, and I'm sure gravity's rainbow had a whole clown car full.

January 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSam

Try explaining George Carlin to Hitler, kid.

But srsly. Ever watch Hogan's Heroes in Berlin in German, without the laughtrack? It's like watching the Brady Bunch in Utah with the sound off.

January 12, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterSteven Augustine

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