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DVD: Killing Hitler (2003)
Very Good
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1 (NTSC)

January 27, 2009



Genre: Documentary / WWII  
Docu-drama hybrid of Operation Foxley, wherein Britain assigned the task of crafting an assassnation plot to a special branch of the secret service.  



Directed by:

Jeremy Lovering
Screenplay by: Jeremy Lovering
Music by: Piers Faccini
Produced by: Gordon Baskerville, Jo Ralling
Cast (docu-drama segments):

Peter McDonald, Kate Ashfield, Kenneth Cranham, Keith Allen, Andrew Scott, Bohdan Poraj, Lara Belmont, and Vincent Regan.

Film Length: 99 mins
Process/Ratio: 1.78:1
Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Languages:  English Dolby 2.0
Special Features :  

Bonus documentary: Inside the Mind of Adolph Hitler

Comments :

Although the SIS, the forerunner to Britain's secretive MI6 spy faction, had been around since 1909, the SOE (Special Operations Executive) was created in 1940 to handle 'irregular warfare' - a more aggressive, gung-ho approach towards handling troublesome figures through espionage and sabotage.

Operation Foxley was Britain's attempt to co-ordinate the knowledge built up in the SIS (though double agents, captured spies and enemy soliders) and the pecision assaults (and machismo) of the SIE and kill Adolph Hitler in the hope of ending th war early, and preventing futher mass slaughter.

The plan seemed to remain theoetical until Claus von Stauffenberg's briefcase bomb made headlines in July of 1944, and alerted Britain of Germans who shared similar disgust with the Nazi regime. Time was running out, because the SS were in the process of hunting down any residual resistance and exterminating the lot to halt any futher insurgent activities.

While one group of British spies felt a kill would save lives, others believed another monster would rise up and not make a quick peace, but push on with the war. Hitler's failure to conquer Russia during the winter campaign also made the naysayers believe futher bungles were signs the Nazi regime were slowly self-destructing, and leting them implode was a better game plan than a pro-active shoot.

Part of the fear stemmed from the Brits' usage of two sympathetic Czech resistance fighters whom they trained to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich in 1942; Hitler's retalliation was to massacre 5000 Czech villagers. Believing Heydrich's death was worth the revenge killings, Britain's spy agency kept the Hitler plot on the burner until it came very close to being approved, albeit more for boosting the resistance cause than a sense of an assured success.

Instead of a straightforward docu-drama structure, writer-director Jeremy Lovering opted to integrate dramatic re-enactments of meetings, conversations, training, and the proposed assassination attempt with a present-day roundtable discussions with historians weighing the pros, cons, and success rate of the proposed assassination plans (poison, explosives, sniper).

Also intergrated into the briskly edited narrative are a handful of interviews with project survivors, as well as Hitler's personal attache, who corroborate Hitler's daily routine that made the SOE focus on one locale and one method of killing.

Killing Hitler is a collage of stylistic approaches that almost works. The montage of dramatizations and present-day interviews with archival footage owes a bit to Peter Watkins (Culloden), as well as look and punchy style of the History Channel (who unsurprisingly co-produced the film). The feature-length doc is ably propelled by an electronic, trance-like score by Piers Faccini, which somewhat blurs the doc's feel of authenticity by recalling the BBC's MI-5 / Spooks series. The information is still heavily intriguing and the dramatizations engrossing, so for most Killing Hitler makes for a fitting addendum to the von Stauffenberg plot, dramatized in Valkyrie (2009), The Plot to Kill Hitler (1990), and countless offshoot docs.

© 2009 Mark R. Hasan

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