Wanting to both learn more about the Middle Ages and Renaissance, as well as take a short break from Civil War and WWII studies, I picked up William Manchester’s A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance (Back Bay Books; 1992) at a recent book sale. Having a bad habit of starting books, getting engrossed and breezing through the first half, before getting preoccupied with something else and never completing it, I was not sure if I would ever end up reading this. However, one day, as I pondered something to do in my free time, I just decided to flip it open and read a random page, which had to do with the Inquisition, therefore it intrigued me (anything involving Church corruption is more often than not going to alert and keep my attention). I started reading it that day, and I do not think I have ever been so into a historical narrative, not from any other subject. This book had me in its grip the entire time and would not let go until I was finished. I will be quick to say that this is the best narrative I have ever read, hands down.
Just want to start off by saying that just because a movie is not labeled in the horror genre, or does not contain graphic or disturbing imagery, does not mean a movie cannot be absolutely horrifying. Conspiracy is proof of that.
This 2001 HBO production focuses on the Wannsee Conference of 1942, in which top Nazi officials discussed and planned the “Final Solution” to the “Jewish Question”. In just over an hour, the details would be laid on how to round up and eventually exterminate all of the Jews in Europe. Their discussions, and the manner in which they so nonchalantly discuss how they are going to murder people will just leave you in awe.
Kenneth Branagh stars as Reinhard Heydrich, the man left in charge by Adolf Hitler to come up with this final solution. He is aided by the more well know Adolf Eichmann, played by Stanley Tucci who organized the meeting to gather the other officials.
Both actors did a great job in their portrayals, because they made the characters seem human, and not evil, only adding to how disturbing the situation was.
This movie is based on the actual case file minutes recorded by Martin Luther, played by Kevin McNally.
Conspiracy stands at just over an hour and a half, and although that may seem rather short for a television film production, the meeting in real life lasted only about that time. It is truly amazing that the plan that would result in more than six million deaths was decided in only an hour.
This film does a good job in showing the meeting, and takes place almost all in one room. The discussions are intense, and save for a few profanities here and there, this would be a great film to show in a classroom when teaching about the Holocaust or Nazi Germany in general.
My final rating for this will be a 9 out of 10. The final few minutes detailed what the fate would be of some of the officials after the conference. I thought that was a very nice touch.