This obscure historical drama from a little-known British filmmaker (Sean Ellis was an Oscar nominee, but for a live-action short film unseen by most moviegoers) reveals an obscure World War II operation that deserves wider recognition.
In 1942, Czech operatives attempted to assassinate the third-highest ranking Nazi officer, Reinhard Heydrich, widely considered the chief architect of the Final Solution. Heydrich’s iron rule of occupied Czechoslovakia led to the deaths of thousands. With the approval of the Czech government in exile in London and the help of what little remains of the Czech resistance (namely, Toby Jones’ Uncle Hajsky), two men, Josef Gabcik (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan, 50 Shades of Grey’s Christian Grey), attempt to do what no other Allied power accomplished: successfully assassinate a high-ranking Nazi officer.
Anthropoid’s near hour-long recount of the preparation for the attack is nowhere near as insanely intense as the attack and the subsequent siege on the church used as a hideout for the surviving conspirators. Little on screen this year has been as consistently intense for as long an amount of time—maybe just the entirety of Green Room.
Powerful as Anthropoid is, one can only imagine how much more informative and compelling a good doc about the operation could be. The fake Czech accents employed by the mostly British actors proved harder to understand than they were necessary (think the narratively similar Valkyrie), but that gripe is a tiny one to aim at this largely successful way into an untrod back alley of WWII.
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