The World According to Ploy

February 21, 2009

Valkyrie, or: How Not to Stage a Coup

Filed under: Movie Reviews — by Ploy @ 4:51 pm

It’s not like I know how to stage a coup d’etat. I don’t even bother to imagine what I would have to do if I were to stage a coup, because in my life, I never, ever plan to stage a one. I will leave that job to men in suits who convince themselves that they matter in the Greater Scheme of Things. Or that the Greater Scheme of Things matters to them. Whichever.

Anyway, despite my lack of knowledge about staging successful coups, I think I certainly know how not to stage one.

I don’t remember where I got his from, but there’s this fact in my brain that to successfully take over any government, get hold of the communications system first. The radio, the television, the newspapers. The media. Control communication, you control practically everything. If they had Coup 101, they would/should probably teach that sometime in the first week.

If you control the media, you can control the masses. If you control communications, you can isolate your enemy. When staging a coup, your enemy is probably some important state figure…and look, really, if Mr. Archenemy can’t get his commands around, he’s just a lonely sitting duck.

Which brings us round to our point-of-the-day: in Valkyrie, Tom Cruise’s character, Colonel Stoffenburg, might have met a different ending if he’d gone to a Coup 101 class.

Watching Valkyrie was something I wanted and didn’t want to do. I might have beef with Tom Cruise the Man (not something personal, but he’s just…..strange), but I have nothing at all against Tom Cruise the Actor. I think he’s a good actor. In all his movies (yes, including Vanilla Sky), he’s convincing and he’s just in to character. The adjective of versatile might also apply here.

Back to Valkyrie: we know Hitler died by his own hands…so at the outset, we all know that in Valkyrie, Tom & Co. will fail in their attempt to assassinate Hitler. I think the people who made this had guts. It is difficult to make a movie thrilling when you know (if not exactly, then quite accurately) how it ends.

Surprisingly, Valkyrie was worth the 140 baht I paid. Tom was convincing as Stoffenberg, the supporting actors were great, and the setting and costumes bought the movie to life. In the first half of the movie, I found myself rooting for the German Resistance. At one point I even hoped that perhaps this would be a kind of alternate-reality movie and Hitler would be dead in the end.

But things sorta fell apart in the last half hour.

No one even made sure Hitler was dead after the blast at the conference house. Tom Cruise’s Stoffenerg just walks out of the house, without turning back. In this case I can forgive him. I mean, it’s not like you can drop a bomb in a house smack-middle of a military compound and walk back to make sure your target is dead. What you do is you get in a car and leave with your trusted secretary (which is exactly what Stoffenberg does. Bravo.) And the fact that the person driving you is one of Hitler’s loyal minions may be justified because, well, you need him driving to get past the guards at the front gates. 

You might not need to even kill him. Right? He’s just a driver.

But seriously, the moment he sees your secretary throwing the extra bombs away…well, now he begins to link you with that godawful blast he saw a few minutes ago. Stoffenberg, I know you’re the hero to this piece and you’re probably all righteous and against killing-of-innocents and all that…but this is a military operation. This is HIGH TREASON. Dude, you don’t need extra witnesses. You need to contain everything. EVERYTHING.

Ok, in all fairness, maybe they didn’t kill off Mr. Driver because Tom Cruise/Stoffenberg was sure his side would win anyways, so it didn’t matter.

But if you’re THAT sure…really….well, what gives you the right to be that sure? In retrospect, when I was going through your plot in my head during the last minutes of the movie, there were so many places that things could’ve gone wrong. The plan wasn’t foolproof. It was ridden with holes. It was not contained. You didn’t even attempt to control the communications system. Morse codes and messages were still being sent. Phone calls could still be made. The Reich side was still making phonecalls! Argh. Hitler ended up on the radio! You took control of the government buildings, but that’s all they are…BUILDINGS. Lifeless things.

If you’d severed all communications coming from Hitler. If you’d taken that communication headquarters thing (and why is it that it was only women typing?)…if you’d taken over the radio, your chances of success would’ve been much higher.


This has been long and I am getting hungry. I will now procede to wander downstairs and find some food. Perhaps I will ponder and plot  while dunking Teddy Grahams in cold milk.



  1. P’Ploy, have you watched Milk yet?

    Comment by Ching — February 22, 2009 @ 4:44 am |Reply

  2. Valkyrie…wow…now I wanna watch this~

    Comment by kradsinoda — February 24, 2009 @ 5:25 pm |Reply

  3. That was Gingypoo,btw XD

    Comment by kradsinoda — February 24, 2009 @ 5:28 pm |Reply

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