Monday 19 September 2016

Film: 'Anthropoid'

Before I saw the 1975 film 'Operation Daybreak' (which I liked), I'd had little or no idea about the plot to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the 'Butcher of Prague'. 
The film's title is the code name for this plot, Heydrich being Hitler's rep in Czechoslovakia following its 1938 invasion and occupation, and third in command in Nazi Germany after 'Der Fuhrer' himself and Himmler. This significant, brave and sad episode, with its miserable and horrific consequences, has been rather eclipsed by other WWII events, campaigns and battles, but surely needs to be told and remembered.  

I'm not sure if this film is a major improvement on the earlier, but it's absolutely in no way inferior, as well as being considerably more brutal, particularly in the violent interrogation scenes under torture, graphically realised on screen, and the culminating shoot-out in a church where the plotters are holed up, this latter episode taking up a third of the entire film - and most effective it is too. 

Jamie Dornan ('Fifty Shades of Grey') and Cillian Murphy (of too many films to mention) are, respectively, the Czech and Slovak leaders of the assassination enterprise, meeting up with other resistance sympathisers in Prague, to bring their plot to fruition, the latter including the ever-reliable Toby Jones.
Especially noteworthy is that this film is shot (in very subdued colours) in Prague at some of the actual locations where the incidents took place.

English Director Sean Ellis does a sterling job with a good script and a uniformly high acting standard from a cast which also includes a high proportion of Czechs and Slovaks.

Even though one knows the tragic outcome I did find it exciting with virtually no longueurs. 
I didn't mind English being used throughout by the cast (apart from the German of the Nazi officers) even though there were historically no English characters in this episode. However, some of the cod-foreign accents when using the English I could have done without.

It's a good film, being nowhere near the 'boring' that I've seen suggested in some reviews. It's a story that has too infrequently been brought to the screen, large or small, and I'm content in giving this version a thumbs-up........6.5.


  1. I knew this story and was interested in seeing this movie. However, I am a bit reluctant now since you've mentioned the "particular violent interrogation scene", I hate those scenes, especially when the movie maker dwells on those types of scenes. I remember a movie that Mick Jagger was in about World War II and the Nazi's (he played a drag queen of all things) that I had to eject my rented Netflix DVD because I couldn't take anymore of the violent scenes, even though I knew probably worse happened in real life.

    1. In this film the interrogation scene I refer to is fairly short, Ron, and though the big shoot-out in the church does have a considerable number of bullets flying around, their killing and wounding results are not dwelt on at all. I'll be sorry if I've put you off from seeing this as it'll be an important piece of many people's 'education' of that war, but at least you've been warned.

      That other film you recall was the film version of 'Bent', which I'd seen on the London stage some years prior, with Ian McKellan in the lead, also having a smaller part in the film. Funny, but I don't recall the violent scenes in that film, but from what you say there were obviously there, though on stage they'd been stylised and so that might have cushioned me against the impact of any explicit brutalities on screen. I know the theatre piece had success on both London and Broadway stages but the film seems to have been largely forgotten.