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Conspiracy [2001]
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on 4 March 2015
Kenneth Branagh IS Reinhard Heydrich; the amoral, cultured but unfeeling assembler of the final, efficient solution in disposing of an entire race of innocent people. Stanley Tucci IS Adolph Eichmann; the bureaucrat who crosses every 't' and dots every 'i' of pure evil. Colin Firth IS Dr Wilhelm Stuckart; the author of the Third Reich's racial laws and the would-be legal apologist for genocide. Everyone who earnestly desires the prevention of anything like this carnival of death from ever happening again, quite simply, must watch this `vile beguile.' These `men' and other leading voices meet, in the pleasant lakeside setting of Wannsee; a suburb of Berlin, rather as if they are attending a high-level board meeting to discuss an exciting new business strategy that will embrace novel and fruitful recycling and disposal methods which, if they are not dealt with, are threatening to stall the `company's' export drive, profitability and possibly survival. But they are not ordinary businessmen. They are not ordinary men at all. They are monsters with hearts of demons. It is the coldly matter-of-fact way that this fabulous yet unnerving drama is presented to the viewer that truly chills the heart. Amorality, total lack of guilt or human feelings and a total disregard for human life combine to horrify the heart and soul of all who watch it. All the actors are terrifically and terrifyingly brilliant and Wannsee has been faithfully recreated within a freezing January of 1942. However, it is the hearts of the Nazi monsters who assemble here which are by far the coldest thing on display. Watch it and absorb this greatest lesson of history.
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on 4 December 2016
If this were a stand alone presentation as a piece of theatre, this is five stars. Colin Farrell and Kenneth Branagh knock sparks off each other in a riveting pair of performances that show why they are considered two of the world's finest actors. They are never less than magnificently supported by a strong TV cast including Brendan Coyle, Timothy McNiece, David Thewlis and Jonathan Coy, whose wonderfully fussy performance as Neumann lightens the tone of this otherwise incredibly dark tale. Watch also for a young Tom Hiddleston in his first role. The setting - the actual room where the conference took place - absolutely haunts the film and is beautifully used by the director and cameraman to make this the ultimate in claustrophobic meeting spaces. It is not perhaps terribly historically accurate - Lange was the heavy in real life, and Eichmann the mild and personally amiable bureaucrat, but here they were portrayed as opposites to heighten the tension. Also Klopfer, who was actually one of the younger, fitter men present is played as a 'strutting, porcine [redacted]'. Also, so far as we know Wannsee was about given direct orders not about holding discussions - by the time it was held Chelmno and Belzec were already in operation, after all. But the way those performances seamlessly present the horror of what Sereny called 'the banality of evil' makes such license entirely forgivable. As a teacher on Holocaust related topics, this is one I would definitely rate highly. So why only four stars? Because some utter fool thought it would be appropriate to sell an English language DVD in Britain, where less than a third of the population speak a second language, with French only captions. As it happens, I can read French, but the process of translating it for those who couldn't was extremely wearisome and I could have done without it. It must be extremely frustrating for monoglot viewers to have this marvellous ending, over the haunting music of Schubert, spoiled by the inability to read the fascinating subsequent biographies of the people there. Indeed, the revelation of how many got away with their involvement in the Holocaust is the most sobering part of the film. So yes, buy this because it's brilliant, featuring arguably career best performance from Branagh in one of the great historical TV dramas and certainly one of the most disturbing. But beware of the flaw in the packaging.
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on 20 April 2014
This is the definitive film interpretation of a meeting that DID take place, but only one copy of the minutes (of sorts) survived. The Wannsee conference was a result of German strategic direction, taken in 1941/42, on the "Jewish Question". The thrust of this gathering confirmed to all those present that they would be expected to support SS work in adhering to that direction. The acting is sublime - esp Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich. Do not expect any "action", this is the re-enactment of a meeting - nothing else - of very educated Germans who were dedicated (indeed, only believed in) to the cause of National Socialism. Prior to watching, you may wish to read " The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting: Wannsee and the Final Solution" by Mark Roseman - in order to provide an appreciation of what you see in this film; key point, the "minutes" or protocol, are in an Annex to this book - which allows the reader to make their own conclusion on the meeting.
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on 7 May 2009
In January 1942, at an elegant villa at Berlin-Wannsee, a group of Nazi officials from various ministries and departments, the majority educated, cultured men, many with higher degrees, came together under the chairmanship of SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, head of the RSHA (Reich Main Security Office, which covered all of Germany's police forces). In a few hours, which included some elegant dining, they basically decided the fate of European Jewry. It was as if they were deciding on a programme of vermin extermination, which, in the eyes of fanatical Nazis, it was. No consideration of the humanity of these people was given. Herr Dr. Stuckart, lawyer and proud author of the Nuremburg Racial Laws, was concerned with their proper, meticulous observance. This was his sole bone of contention, not the basic fact that an entire group of humans was to be marginalised and deported from the Reich, not because of anything they'd done, but because of who they were. Indeed, the only minor concessions were those who were had "German" (non-Jewish) spouses and "Mischlinge" (mixed race people). Of all the many inhumanities of man to man, this surely ranks as one of, if not the, greatest iniquities ever perpetrated.

This meeting was not only to decide on the Final Solution, but also to establish the supremacy of the RSHA over all other German departments in the matter. And Heydrich, with the help of his Hebrew-speaking time-and-motion man Adolf Eichmann, got what he wanted.

Having recently read Mark Roseman's "The lake, the villa, the meeting" and now knowing how little we know about what was actually said at Wannsee (only one protocol survives and the accounts of the survivors are probably self-serving and justifying), I was curious as to how one produced a dramatised version. The answer is, very impressively. Naturally nobody knows what was really said, as all notes and records were destroyed, but the whole production has the ring of truth about it.

In the middle of it all was ringmaster Reinhard Heydrich, chillingly played here by Kenneth Branagh. Heydrich works his potential opponents, sometimes in the meeting, sometimes in quiet asides over food. The geniality of the Branagh character was probably much more that that of the real Heydrich, who had the reputation of being somewhat of a cold fish and a thoroughly nasty individual, but it's a wonderful performance, with steel under the geniality, rapidly emerging at the first hint of resistance to his ideas.

All in all, a nicely-acted, chilling production of a monstrous misdeed, and it all happened within living memory in one of the world's most civilised, cultured countries. If that doesn't scare you, nothing will. Could it happen again? Of course it could, so we must always be on our guard against people who know all the answers.

One minor irritation for finicky me. The opening scene has a view of Heydrich's plane coming in to land, taken from above. The wings bear swastikas, instead of the Luftwaffe's "Balkenkreuz" (the swastika was placed only on vertical tail surfaces). Perhaps the producers saw the need to use the symbol of evil to set the scene right from the start.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 1 January 2014
As others have already said this is utterly brilliant. Based on the only surviving document from the actual conference that took place in 1942, it recreates the meeting where all the relevant senior Nazi officials rubber stamped the process that would lead to the attempted extermination of the Jewish race.

The whole cast are excellent, but Kenneth Branagh as General Heydrich gives what may be his finest ever performance. He is truly terrifying, having the authority of Hitler to back him up. There is one moment in the film where one of the other attendees tells him that the total annihilation of the Jews "..has been personally denied to me by the Furhur". To which Heydrich replies "And it will continue to be".

There is nothing more to say really. A sad indictment of mans inhumanity to man, but nevertheless a riveting and compelling film.
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on 20 February 2018
High standards of acting throughout, good location, set in deep winter in Germany. However, the story, factual as it was, made for chilling, indeed depressing viewing, given it is not yet 80 years since these events took place. I watched it before going off to bad one night - not recommended for future viewers, btw!
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on 27 March 2014
This was an HBO/BBC co-production around 2001 and concerns the conference at Wannsee, Berlin, that took place to decide the future (or rather lack of it) of the Jewish people in German occupied territories in WW2.

The cast is strong, with Kenneth Branagh on superb form as Heydrich, the outwardly urbane chairman with a heart of steel. Peter Frith as Stuckart puts in a sterling performance, arguing who is classed as Jewish and who isn't. You think at first he is defending the Jews, but he isn't - he wants a legal framework for genocide to justify it.

You may think this sounds rather dull - a group of men sitting around a table discussing what to them are operational and bureaucratic matters of how and where to commit genocide, but it is gripping. They are not seeing this in human terms at all, they are glorified pen pushers trying to rid themselves of an inconvenience. Amazing to see them eating good food and drinking fine wine whist discussing things that would make most of us lose our lunch.

I assume it had been spiced up for dramatic effect (the dialogue is sharp and the acting convincing), but what isn't spiced up is the end result.

Brilliant TV.
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on 25 October 2014
A very impressive and dark movie about a very dark time in the history of humankind. How accurate it is, I'm not sure but it is based on a transcript and feels authentic. The relatively dispassionate arrival at "the final solution" is chilling in its implication. The impression that I get from viewing this is that the meeting was more to "rubber stamp" the policy rather than devise it and thrash out the details.
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on 4 February 2014
Much has been written and told by way of film about WW2. It was atrocious to know what can and does happen in our world.
This film made it even more REAL.
How can people be so calculating and cruel? Have they not heard of the wrath of God?

If this happened then, I am sure this mistake of judgement, that the powers that be, consider themselves above God's Law, is happening in all the wars in the near past and in the present day, simply because the mistake is accepted by all of us as is.
We are all cursed by not taking a stand against inhumane actions.

I shall watch the film again.

God help us all!
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on 9 August 2017
Movie is in English but all the subtitles - essential to the plot at the start and the end - are in FRENCH. Sent it back fro refund. Anyone know where to get the English version?
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