7.8/10
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139 user 17 critic

Conspiracy (2001)

A dramatic recreation of the Wannsee Conference where the Nazi Final Solution phase of the Holocaust was devised.

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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 6 wins & 21 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
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Clare Bullus ...
Maid (as Claire Bullus)
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Stenographer
David Glover ...
Supervising Butler
David Willoughby ...
Orderly #1
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Phone Operator
David Spinx ...
Cook
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NCO
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NCO2
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Storyline

In January 1942, as the United States enters World War II, a conference assembles near Berlin. SS Gen. Heydrich and his associate, Lt. Eichmann call the meeting to discuss the "evacuation" of Germany's Jews and other undesirables, a code word for their extermination in concentration camps. To begin this Final Solution, they must change the mind of a small group of men opposed to the idea, led by Chancellor Kritzinger Written by Jwelch5742

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One Meeting. Six Million Lives. See more »


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Rated R for language | See all certifications »

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19 May 2001 (USA)  »

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Conspiration  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

None of the SS officers are wearing SS lightning bolts on their collars. See more »

Goofs

As Heydrich arrives for the conference in his Storch aircraft, an overhead shot of the aircraft shows it with swastika markings on the upper surfaces of both wings. Luftwaffe aircraft bore the swastika on their vertical tail surfaces only. The wings and fuselages were marked with the the traditional straight cross national insignia. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: Adolph Hitler invaded Poland in September, 1939, starting WWII. By the winter of 1942, his armies were freezing and starving in the snows of Russia, where his best general had died of a heart attack, and America had entered the war. For the first time, Hitler's dream of a German empire to last 1,000 years was in doubt. While he hired and fired generals and the winter grew colder 15 of his officials were ordered from their commands and ministries to meet in a quiet lakeside ...
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Connections

Version of Die Wannseekonferenz (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

String Quintet in C Major', D.956: Adagio
Written by Franz Schubert
Performed by Ensemble Villa Musica
courtesy of Naxos of America
by arrangement with Source Q
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User Reviews

An intriguing snapshot of history
18 February 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This movie sets several things straight. The Wannsee conference is not the place and time where Nazi Germany decided to commit the Holocaust. The Holocaust had been going on for quite some time by January 1942, the time of the conference. Dachau had been in business for years. The SS Einsatzkommandos had already marched into Poland and Russia, gunning down Jewish men, women, and children by the hundreds of thousands. Even the extermination camps had already opened for business. Hermann Göring, at Hitler's direction, had already given the order to proceed with the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.

Thus, the purpose of the conference is not to decide on whether to murder the Jews of Europe. That decision already having been made, the conference is called so Reinhard Heydrich, as chief of the SD and second-in-command to Himmler in the SS, can ram the decision down the throat of the rest of the German government. The interesting thing is the other German leaders' reaction. Many applaud, some object to the wastage of Jews whom they consider more valuable as slaves than as corpses, some favor sterilization instead of murder, and some get physically sick. But, enthusiastically or grudgingly, they all accept.

The well-deserved demonization of Adolf Hitler has the regrettable side effect of obscuring the evil of his cronies and subordinates from anyone but historians, like a baleful sun whose light obscures the stars. Below the level of Hitler, the public's view of the German government dissolves into an amorphous mass called `Nazis,' the interchangeable automatons of the Führer. If the movie achieves nothing else, it will put Reinhard Heydrich and Adolf Eichmann on the map as villains in their own right, not mere extensions of Hitler. Kenneth Branagh's performance as Heydrich, the `Blond Beast,' is unnerving; he is the personification of that ruthless will, impervious to either reason or human feeling, which Hitler admired. This performance would be a star-making turn for a young actor; for Branagh, it is routine, maybe even a bit below average for this amazing performer.

CONSPIRACY individualizes the Nazis at the conference, and shows the different facets of evil. Tellingly, Colin Firth's Wilhelm Stuckart is one of the least repulsive characters present, even though he is the architect of the barbaric Nuremberg Laws which forced Jews out of the professions and decreed death for any Jew who should marry an Aryan. He, at least, is one of the few who has the courage to stand up to Heydrich, if only for a little while, and resist the SS thugs' insistence on mass murder. His insistence that Jews must be oppressed only according to the strict letter of the law is insane, absurd, but it is a principle, which is more than most of these people have. Klopfer, Martin Bormann's lackey, is the most disgusting man present, even if he can't match Heydrich for pure evil; not even the veneer of civilization is left on him, and he shows sadistic pleasure at the thought of murdering the Jews. Other reactions range from zealously uncritical compliance with orders, to cheerful indifference, to a sort of put-upon resentment that the work of extermination is falling on them.

But the most disturbing character is Kritzinger, secretary of the Reich chancellery, the only person present who wants not to be a murderer. He is not, as some think, the only one present who realizes that what they're doing is wrong; even Heydrich knows that, as can be seen by his careful precautions to keep the crime secret. But while the others all want to get away with what they know is wrong, Kritzinger doesn't want to do it at all. Still, after being privately browbeaten and threatened by Heydrich, he states his support for the murders. Of all those present, Kritzinger is spiritually the closest to the audience, and naturally invites the question of what we would do in his place. Could you, unarmed and alone, look right into the eyes of the Blond Beast, a man whose hands are dripping with the blood of thousands of dissenters from the Reich, and tell him, `No, I defy you,' knowing that while you are risking your own torture and death, you will probably not even save a single Jew? I wish I could just write that I don't know, but the honest thing to write is that I doubt I could do that.

Kritzinger's case is a brutal warning of the malevolent power of groupthink. Even as the killers sit at the table and exchange smiles, one senses a spiteful, hungry vigilance for the first sign of sympathy for the people they are planning to slaughter, waiting to pounce on the dissenter and rip him apart with scorn and threats.

When it comes to flaw-picking time, I can only say that the ending should have shown some of the consequences of the meeting. There should have been at least some reference to the millions of people who were killed by these men. Instead, we are treated only to the fate of the men themselves, although that is disturbing in itself when we see how many of them escaped justice at Nuremberg.

People look at the pictures from Dachau and Buchenwald, the piles of starved corpses and the lamps made of human skin, and they say, `How could they?' Watch the movie. This is how they did it: over drinks around a table.

Rating: ***½ out of ****.

Recommendation: Everyone mature enough to understand should see this movie.


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