BERLIN (Reuters) – Makers of a movie about a failed plot to kill Adolf Hitler will not be allowed to use a German memorial site but this is unrelated to the fact that star Tom Cruise is a Scientologist, the Finance Ministry said on Monday.
Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung had made it clear the filmmakers could not shoot at any military sites as long as Cruise plays hero Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg because of his link to Scientology. Berlin regards it as a cult masquerading as a religion to make money, a view Scientology leaders reject.
The Berlin studio handling the filming at locations in Germany dismissed the ban, saying it had all the necessary location permits, including one for a section of the so-called “Bendlerblock” next to the Defense Ministry in Berlin.
This is where Stauffenberg and co-conspirators were executed after their failed attempt to kill Hitler with a briefcase bomb on July 20, 1944. Babelsberg Studios said shooting the film there would be crucial for its authenticity.
The Finance Ministry, which oversees the properties and has the final word on such matters, said the filmmakers were welcome to film in Germany — but not at the Bendlerblock.
“They will not be permitted to film at the Bendlerblock but this has nothing to do with (Scientology),” said Finance Ministry spokesman Stefan Olbermann.
Only one other filmmaker has been allowed to film at the Bendlerblock, now a memorial. That experience led the Finance Ministry to bar all film shoots at the site, Olbermann said.
“We welcome the fact that such a film is being made,” he said. “We don’t think it would be appropriate to film there.”
He added that the ministry was still considering the filmmakers’ requests to shoot at other sites in Germany, though he said there were no requests to film at military sites.
The American actor has had problems with German authorities due to his membership in Scientology in the past. Stauffenberg’s eldest son said he did not want Cruise to portray his father.
The film, slated for a 2008 release, will be directed by Bryan Singer and Kenneth Branagh will co-star. It is called “Valkyrie” after Operation Valkyrie, the plot’s codename.