Valkyrie was a World War II film about a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler in July of 1944.
Directed by Bryan Singer, the 2008 release follows the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, played by Tom Cruise, and his attempt to orchestrate the assassination of Hitler with the help a group of other high-ranking Nazi officials. Filming was fraught with unusual incidents, including:
The Germans objected to Scientology
German officials and some of the subject’s family objected to Cruise’s membership of the Church of Scientology; they feared the movie would promote the belief. They initially refused to allow the crew to film on authentic sites until Cruise and the film’s producer, Christopher McQuarrie, assured them the production had nothing to do with Scientology.
Tom Cruise had to use a secret entrance to the premiere
Protesters against Scientology attended almost every premiere. At the December 18th screening in Los Angeles, Cruise was forced to enter through a tunnel to ensure his safety.
When the townspeople saw the swastika, they called the authorities
Germany has strict laws governing the use of the Nazi swastika symbol, with the only exception being for artist renditions in historical context. During filming, warning signs were posted to indicate the swastika was being used. Even so, locals who saw the Nazi logo painted on prop sets and airplanes filed formal complaints, resulting in several fines being placed on the landowners.
Colonel von Stauffenberg’s son told Cruise “Keep your hands off my father.”
Von Stauffenberg’s son, retired Bundeswehr General Berthold Maria Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, objected to Cruise playing the title role. He had no objections to the project itself, but when he learned Cruise would be playing his father, he feared the movie would be clichéd and “bound to be rubbish. Cruise should keep his hands off my father.”
The German film developers ruined the Bendlerblock scenes
When the scenes made at the Bendlerblock site were sent to be processed, the plant used the wrong chemical and ruined the film. Cruise and producer Christopher McQuarrie had to go back to the German government and obtain permission to re-shoot the scene.
The crew paused for a moment of silence in von Stauffenberg’s honor
Cruise spent months studying historical documents and film clips, as well as visiting with the von Stauffenberg family to learn about his subject. He became closely involved personally and used his influence to convince German authorities to allow filming on authentic locations.
It was on his insistence that the crew paused for a moment of silence in von Stauffenberg’s honor every night when filming shots that took place at Bendlerblock, the actual execution site of the conspirators.
Eleven extras were hurt during filming
Eleven extras were riding to the set in the back of a truck on August 19, 2007, when a side panel gave way, and they fell out of the truck. One was sent to a hospital for his injuries. The studio attempted to settle the matter quietly, but the injured parties demanded $11 million in damages.
German critics didn’t like Cruise’s performance.
Even though most German critics were harshly critical of Cruise’s performance, the film brought in over $200,000,000 in box offices worldwide. In Germany, the movie had the highest gross earnings of all European countries, earning $3.7 million.
Members of the von Stauffenberg family were in the movie
Philipp von Schulthess, the grandson of Claus von Stauffenberg, played Henning von Tresckow’s aide, Fabian von Schlabrendorff, in the film. The character of Nina Von Stauffenberg, the Colonel’s wife, was portrayed as being pregnant with von Schulthess’ mother, Konstanze von Schulthess.