Anthropoid Review


The problem with history is that it happened a long time ago.

If that sounds like stating the obvious, that’s because it is; and yet, as time inexorably forces our past further and further behind us, there are some things that should not be forgotten.

Anthropoid is a film about an event that’s worthy of remembrance.

The year is 1942, Hitler’s been goose-stepping his way through central Europe for the past three years and I’m watching two men parachute into an empty forest in Prague.

They are Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis, two Czech military men trained by the British secret services to carry out a deadly mission against their native country’s nazi overlords.

Their target is Reinhard Heydrich, the third highest ranking nazi officer who’s in charge of overseeing the occupation of the nation formerly known as Czechoslovakia.

Now Heydrich is something of a demon, and he didn’t earn his butcher of prague nickname by serving up grass-fed organic produce of the highest quality.

Having all too easily complied with German aggression at first, the absent Czech government now feels it’s time to send a message to their nazi occupiers; a message that will be delivered by Gabcik and Kubis.

Taken in by members of the Czech resistance, our two secret agent men quickly set about creating believable cover stories by getting involved with a couple of local women.

But this is another part of operation anthropoid, helping Gabcik and Kubis avoid suspicion before they can get within striking distance of Heydrich and demonstrate the Czech people’s defiance to nazi rule.

But will they succeed in their mission, and have they considered the consequences of what they’re about to do?

Based on real life events, Anthropoid is another of those worthy films about our not too distant past that I’d never heard of.

And if Cillian Murphy hadn’t signed onto this project, chances are I still wouldn’t have.

The problem, as with all films of this nature, is that fine line this factual fiction treads between informing and entertaining.

Creative licence will have been indulged at some point, as commercial interests dictate with any Hollywood film, and a part of history that didn’t need any embellishment to make it interesting will be twisted in the minds of many.

As always, I feel like historical events are best explored through documentary, as the truth of our human past is usually astonishing enough.

Then again, you wouldn’t get many Peaky Blinders aficionados or fifty shades fanatics without Murphy and Jamie Dornan playing the lead roles.

It’s a tricky compromise to pull off, and Anthropoid – which means something that takes on human form – does this as well as it can.

And in this hysterical political age of badly toupeed demagogues and shameless careerists stoking up xenophobic tendencies just to extend their own power, it’s good to remember what can happen when good people do nothing to confront the evil that men do.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

September 2016