The German government has said it will grant subsidies for the production of a film starring Tom Cruise about a failed assassination plot against Hitler. The film has been the subject of great controversy because Cruise is a member of the Church of Scientology cult.
He may not be getting the warmest of greetings in Berlin, but Tom Cruise’s latest Hollywood vehicle will be partially subsidized by the German government.
Despite the brouhaha about Cruise’s membership in the Scientology sect, “Valkyrie,” his biopic about Claus von Stauffenberg’s failed assassination plot against Hitler, will still get German filming subsidies.
On Thursday, the German Federal Film Fund (DFFF) said it would grant a €4.8 million ($6.5 million) subsidy for the film. An official for the organization told Reuters that the grant should allay fears that Germany is fundamentally opposed to Cruise playing Stauffenberg because of his Scientology membership. The German government allocates €60 million a year to support the national film market — and the subsidies are available to any film produced in the country.
Meanwhile, the German government has defended a decision made by the Defense Ministry not to allow Cruise to shoot at historical sites. In an interview with the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper on Thursday, the German government’s top cultural affairs offical, Bernd Neumann, defended the decision not to issue a filming permit for the Bendlerblock in the German Defense Ministry. Filming there, Neumann warned, could damage the site’s historical importance. At the Bendlerblock, Stauffenberg and his associates plotted an attempt to kill the Nazi leader with a briefcase bomb. When the attempt failed, they were later executed at the same site.
Shooting of “Valkyrie,” named after the plot, is expected to begin on July 18, and Cruise had hoped to film scenes at the original historical sites.
Neumann, of the conservative Christian Democrats, said he could understand why a director would want to film at the authentic places. “But Bendlerblock is a memorial and filming could damage the dignity of the site — even if that’s not the film team’s intention,” he said. Naumann also said he didn’t think the refusal to grant the permits would make Germany less attractive for film production. Babelsberg studio, in Potsdam near Berlin, is a popular production site for Hollywood filmmakers who also employ local workers. It will also be the site of “Valkyrie” production. Naumann said Germany is “more attractive than ever before” to filmmakers.
Hitler ordered the execution of Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators in Bendlerblock’s inner courtyard.
Still, the German government’s decision hasn’t gone without criticism here. Jo Baier, a German TV director who shot a public television production about Stauffenberg, accused the government of having double standards. When he produced his film, the Defense Ministry allowed him to shoot scenes at the Bendlerblock.
Cruise has faced repeated criticism in recent days for taking on the important historical role. Politicians have exploited Cruise’s presence in Berlin to wage a campaign against Scientology, which doesn’t have the status of a religion in Germany and is officially monitored by government intelligence agencies.
Stauffenberg’s eldest son Berthold also told the Süddeutsche Zeitungin a recent interview: “I don’t like the idea of an avowed Scientologist playing the role of my father.”
Scientology has been under increased scrutiny by politicians since it opened a major new center in Berlin in January. The move followed the opening of centers in other important European cities including Copenhagen, prompting SPIEGEL to talk of a “European offensive.”
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