Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cold eyes, cold heart

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-054-16, Reinhard Heydrich.jpgOver the weekend I went to see The Man with the Iron Heart, a biopic of Reinhard Heydrich. The film charts his rise from a disgraced former naval officer, to joining the Nazi SS, rising through the ranks to become one of its key leaders, and one of the main architects of the Holocaust, later chairing the 1942 Wannsee Conference, which set up the Final Solution, and his assassination in 1942 by Czech agents.

Bearing in mind the limitations of a feature film, key plot points are vaguely sketched. Heydrich bluffed his way into his job in Nazi intelligence, with much of his espionage knowledge gleaned from spy novels he read as a boy. The film also fails to properly explain that the assassination didn't go to plan because the unreliable machine gun used it in jammed when the gunman tried to fire it. The characters of his assassins, Czech resistance fighters who trained in Scotland, are underdeveloped. As a result, their discovery and deaths are not as moving as they could have been. Nor is it adequately explained that Heydrich initially survived the assassination attempt, but later died in hospital from wound infections he sustained in it.

It isn't a bad movie. Jason Clarke and Rosamund Pike were effective in their roles as Reinhard and Lina Heydrich, respectively, as is Stephen Graham as Heinrich Himmler. They were evil personified. The locations were also used well, and the combat sequences were impressive for a low budget film.

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