Picks and Pans Review: Conspiracy
ABC's Anne Frank (see review, page 31) looks at the Holocaust from the victims' point of view. This HBO-BBC coproduction—very different but equally meritorious—is a dispassionate but devastating dramatization of a 1942 meeting at which 15 high-ranking Nazis approved a plan to exterminate the Jewish population of all territories under Germany's control.
Like The Wannsee Conference, a 1984 German-language film on the same subject, Conspiracy relies on actual minutes of the meeting and runs only about as long as the event itself. Incredibly, it took the participants less than two hours to debate this scheme of unspeakable horror. Keeping the discussion on track is SS Gen. Reinhard Heydrich, played to perfection by Kenneth Branagh. Smooth but sinister, Heydrich is the ultimate bureaucratic infighter, feigning respect for dissenters, then cutting them off at the knees. Adolf Eichmann (Stanley Tucci) sits at his right hand, coolly reciting statistics on gas-chamber efficiency as if he were reading from a financial statement. And Colin Firth is superb as Wilhelm Stuckart, a legal authority who declares his hatred of Jews but tries to draw the line at annihilating them.
Bottom Line: This meeting's a must
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