The cast does a marvelous job of fleshing out the documentary evidence to create convincing characters. Kenneth Branagh is especially chilling as SS Chief of Security Reinhard Heydrich, who uses a combination of charm and ruthless power-mongering to gain support for his plans. Colin Firth is fascinating as Wilhelm Stuckart, a lawyer who sees the brutal tactics of the SS as a threat to his own intellectualized anti-Semitism, and Stanley Tucci gives a wonderfully understated performance as Adolf Eichmann.
Conspiracy is a carefully crafted, completely unsensational film that offers ample proof of the banality of evil. There are no histrionics and no comic-book Nazi villains, just a small group of politicians and war-weary soldiers arguing about the meaning of words and the logistics of extermination, calmly preparing to unleash an unimaginable horror on the world. --Simon Leake
From an historical perspective i found the following very interesting: Hitler based his party structure on a chaos theory in that he had simple overlapping functions, so that his subordinates would always be engaged in in-fighting, instead of challenging him. It worked remarkably well. Here, in motion, the director shows the in-fighting, but on this part of domestic policy (internal to the Reich, at any rate) the decision was swift and unanimous, Heydrich alone held the power. Utterly intriguing.
What may make this more interesting for anyone, might be to read Hannah Arendt's account of Eichmann's trial in Jerusalem, which is published by Penguin.
The fate of eleven million European Jews was decided over a meal by several higher ups in the German government (although not Hitler). Led by Reinhard Heydrich (played brilliantly, as usual, by Kenneth Branagh) and his aide (play brilliantly, also as usual, by Stanley Tucci) as they explain the plan. They explain it so simply, as if they're building a house, and in a very intellegent manner. In fact, it has to be explained at some point in the conversation that "deportation" is just a fancy word for murder.
Many of those present do not agree with the methods, but not because they have sympathy for the Jews. One somber delegate thinks the Jews should be removed from common society, but that murder is too extreme. Another delegate objects to the plan...but only because he feels the procedures Heydrich draws up will contradict his already enforced anti-semite laws. In the end, it is revealed how it will be accomplished: by none other than the gas chambers of the concentration camps.
Like movies such as "My Dinner With Andre" or "12 Angry Men" this movie takes a storyline built entirely on dialogue and proves it can be fascinating.Read more ›
I believe that the film was either filmed on location or at a place that was very much similar to the Wannsee House. I had the opportunity to travel there this past summer with a group of teachers. I was struck by how much the movie prepared me to think about the house and it's importance in the creation and implementation of the "Final Solution". If you are thinking of showing it to students, you may need to explain to them how the conference was conducted and give them some background -- it has lots of dialogue and plenty of "under currents" that can be hard to follow if you are not familiar with the "power plays" that were going on at that table....lots of ego at that table. It is important to remember that many of these individuals were sent by the "major players" in the Nazi regime to attend the conference. By not attending the conference himself, Hitler and his administrative members could claim "plausable deniability" (so they thought) if anything were to go wrong with the plan. It is hard to believe that this beautiful house that is located on beautifully-decorated ground and of of a spectacular lake could have played such a major role in WWII. Chilling!