Anthropoid

This is a worthy war film, recounting the story of the assassination plot on SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect behind the Final Solution, the “Butcher of Prague”. It’s realistic, firmly plotted and well acted, with all the ingredients of an old-fashioned war movie – the noble hero, love in the time of conflict, the coward and pretty straight up Nazis we can all hate (well, I say, all, but no doubt some magazines will run nice features on how well they dress).

What is really at the core of the film however are the moral dilemmas inherent in taking action. Assuming it is right to assassinate Heydrich, is it still worth it when you know someone else will take his place? What is the actual impact of this action? This is complicated when the effect on the lives of those who help the plotters is considered, and those of their families. And then is it still moral to continue when the Nazis threaten to execute 30,000 innocent people?

The film explores these dilemmas carefully, but without detracting from the main action. In so many movies the noble self sacrifice is foregrounded, but this is relatively easy to make. What fascist regimes rely on is the preventative measure of executing others. This is a very efficient technique – with one action it prevents further insurrection, makes cooperation unlikely, and increases mistrust. It shifts the moral dilemma from the oppressor to the resistance, and they are the sort of people who are likely to be bothered by a conscience. That’s why they’re not part of the oppressor’s machinery to start with.

Trump? I didn’t say Trump. Why would you even raise that?

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