Germany backflips on Cruise filming ban

The German Defence Ministry is scrambling to qualify its stance on the Tom Cruise World War II thriller Valkyrie.

The Ministry says, despite reports to the contrary, it has no opposition to the film shooting in Germany.

News reports earlier this week had stated officials would ban Valkyrie from shooting at German military sites because of Cruise’s belief in Scientology.

The Ministry now says it has not received an official request from Valkyrie producers United Artists to shoot in the country, but it will “look agreeably” upon any such application.

The film, slated for a 2008 release, tells the true story of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg – the leader of a failed German military plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944.

The film’s title comes from Operation Valkyrie, the plot’s code name.

The producers have expressed interest in shooting at the Bendlerblock memorial in Berlin.

It is the actual location where Stauffenberg and his fellow conspirators hatched the plot to assassinate Hitler with a bomb hidden in a briefcase.

It also is where Stauffenberg and the other plotters were executed after the attempt failed.

Now a memorial site, the Bendlerblock also houses part of the Defence Ministry.

The Defence Ministry says that it is not even responsible for approving film shoots at Bendlerblock because they are only tenants on the land.

The location is under the authority of Germany’s Finance Ministry, a Defence Ministry spokesman says.

The source

The source of the Valkyrie controversy seems to have stemmed from a posting on the website of conservative German Member of Parliament Antje Blumenthal.

Blumenthal posted a statement on Friday claiming that Defence Minister Franz-Josef Jung had pledged to her that Cruise would not get permission to shoot because of the purported danger posed by his Scientology beliefs.

Ms Blumenthal is a cult expert for the conservative CDU/CSU party and a long-time opponent of Scientology.

The German Government does not recognise Scientology as a religion and sees it instead as a dangerous cult, which brainwashes and exploits its members.

Scientology is under official observation by Germany authorities as a potentially threat to German democracy, putting the organisation on par with neo-Nazi groups.

Project embraced

Germany’s film industry, however, has embraced the Valkyrie project.

The heads of Studio Babelsberg, Christoph Fisser and Carl Woebcken, on Thursday praised Valkyrie as one of the “too few examples of military opposition to Hitler’s regime.”

The pair are in negotiations with United Artists to join the project as co-producers.

If UA executives reach a deal, Valkyrie could begin shooting at Babelsberg next month.

“The assassination attempt against Hitler is hardly known outside Germany,” Fisser said.

“We should therefore be delighted and welcome this wonderful opportunity to improve the image of our country.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday June 29, 2007.
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