'You did not bear the shame.
You bestowed the eternally vigilant symbol of change
by sacrificing your impassioned lives for freedom, justice and honour.'
We shall of course, never know for sure what might have happened if the plotters had succeeded in killing the Führer. Some historians have argued that they did not have a strong enough apparatus in place to seize control of the country and ask for a peace with the allies. The failure of the plot had fateful consequences not only for the conspirators, but for millions of others. It has been estimated that as many people died in the European theatre of the conflict between July 1944, and the end of the war on May 8, 1945, as did in the entire preceding period.
The picture above is a production still from the movie: Valkyrie (2008), showing the Actor, Tom Cruise in the role of Stauffenberg. I love this movie, which also featured some outstanding British talent in Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkinson. What interests me in this case is that I have heard and read various different opinions of Tom Cruise' performance in the film. Some think he was miscast, others that he was dreadful, through to 'adaquate' and to sharing my view, that he was brilliant. As one who has always been absolutely fascinated by the rise and fall of the Third Reich, I am well versed with this event and in my minds eye, I can see Stauffenberg exactly as the Actor portrayed him. I remember being interested by an interview Cruise gave, in which he said he knew nothing of the character or the historical events before he was asked to play the role. The question then, is why did the Actor really touch me with his performance, when perhaps other viewers were less impressed?
The answer I think, lies in something which I have begun to appreciate from my studies of the Meisner Technique: The character doesn't exist. The idea for the character is created by the writer, either as fiction, or as a portrayal of an actual historical person. The Actor, or Actress has the task of bringing that character to life, and they do this by providing a series of illusions which the viewer then uses to 'create' the character in their mind. I remember one Meisner Tutor describing it to us as a children's 'join up the dots' puzzle. The Actor provides the 'dots', but it is the audience member who joins them up to create the 'character', and each person joins them differently. For me, Tom Cruise provided a perfect array of 'dots', and thus I was able to completely suspend reality and literally see Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg on my screen.
I dedicate this blog to the memory of those who did not bear the shame. In this event and many others... they resisted.
Requiescat In Pace...