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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

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Anthropoid (2016) on IMDb

Plot Overview

According to historian J.M. Roberts, The Path to War: (492–3)
Hitler then in 1938 seized Austria. … In the autumn came the next German aggression, the seizure of part of Czecho­slo­vakia. Hitler was gradually ful­fil­ling the old … dream of a united Great Germany, defined as all lands of those of German blood.

In retrospect, nevertheless, it can be seen as something of a turning point. It was brought about by the agreement at Munich in September 1938 as a result of the last British foreign policy initiative to satisfy Hitler. The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamber­lain, … hoped that the trans­ference of the last substantial group of Germans under alien rule to that of their home­land might deprive Hitler of the motive for further revision of [the treaty of] Versailles. …

Chamberlain was wrong. Hitler went on to … the absorption of what was left of Czechoslovakia, in March 1939; the British declared inoperative a guarantee of it which they had given the previous autumn.

On September 1, 1939 Germany invaded Poland. The Czech resistance then hindered the Germans' needed factory output. Ober­gruppen­führer Reinhard Heydrich brutally crushed the resistance earning him­self the sobriquet: Butcher of Prague. This movie is Based on Actual Events.

In December, 1941 two soldiers from the Czechoslovak army-in-exile, Josef Gabcík and Jan Kubis (Cillian Murphy & Jamie Dornan, respectively), parachute into their occupied home­land. “Where's the equipment?” asks one. “Caught on one of the branches on the way down,” replies the other. They make their unsteady way to Prague where they cannot find their contact (“Heydrich has all but crushed the resistance”), in a land where there's not much trust of strangers.

They somehow succeed in connecting with remnant resistance members Ladislav Vanek (Marcin Dorocinski) and Uncle Hajsky (Toby Jones). For added cover they walk about with two sympathizers, local ladies Marie Kovárníková (Charlotte Le Bon) and Lenka Fafková (Anna Geislerová). They blend in, confirm their orders (“Anthropoid utmost priority”) to assassinate SS General Heydrich, hatch a plan, instigate it (“May God be with you”), doubt their success (“We failed”), and try to sneak out of the country after the stuff hits the fan.


This movie has a very dark tone. (Eccl. 7:2) “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” Josef quits the New Year's Eve dance after instructing Lenka to slap him. She'd been wearing lipstick. Didn't want to attract the attention of the Nazis in attendance.

(Eccl. 7:3) “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” A lot of grim faces in this movie, trying to survive. Marie is castigated for romanticizing war.

(Eccl. 7:4) “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” Naive Jan and Marie announced their engagement at an other­wise solemn assembly.

(Eccl. 7:5-6) “It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool: this also is vanity.” The Nazi bigwigs were laughing it up when Lenka slapped Josef, but it was better she did so per Josef's suggestion than follow the New Year countdown.

(Eccl. 7:7) “Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.” The Czechs were fed up with the brutal German oppression and didn't want to suffer more of it on account of the assassination—the decimation of the village of Lidice is spelled out. The reward for betrayal (one million koruna for turning in the assassins) also provided incentive to betray resistance members.

(Eccl. 7:8) “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” A tribute to the seven parachutist martyrs was given at the end, which looked better than the Munich agreement at the start, which had left Czecho­slovakia in the lurch. It was better that the fighters on the ground wait to confirm orders than to set them­selves up as if they knew the big picture.

A final stand was taken in the Saints Cyril and Methodius Church. Roberts has this to tell us about the Orthodox Church in Czechoslovakia: (151–2)

But at the beginning of the thirteenth century there had emerged in the east a number of Slav peoples who would have independent historical futures. …

There had … come into existence by then a characteristic Slav and Orthodox civilization, though not all Slavs belonged wholly to it; in the end the peoples of … the modern Czech and Slovak republics were to be more closely tied by culture to the west than to the east. … Adherence to Orthodox Christianity was to be fundamental to the national identity of some of them.

The legacy of Byzantium had been secured to the future through the rooting of Orthodox Christianity among the Slavs. With the immense consequences of this we still live. Had they not been converted to Christianity, the Slav states could not have been part of Europe at all; had they been converted not by the Orthodox but by the Catholics, their history would have shared much more with western Europe. Historians rightly stress all that has made for distinction between Europe east and west. It must never be over­looked, though, that both were Christian.

“Anthropoid” plays on this alignment in a curious way. What differentiates Catholicism from Orthodoxy is the authority of the pope in the former. Both root their authority in the church hierarchy. From the (German) Martin Luther's reformation (of Catholicism) came Protestant reliance solely on scripture (sola scriptura) for church doctrine. In this movie there was some question of the orders from high command to assassinate the General, so they waited for confirmation from the Czecho­slovak government in exile in London, which they received via encrypted short wave message. But the local resistance also came up with a conflicting order via a circuitous route to stand down, and they all had to sort out which to follow. There's a presumption that given a standing order it wouldn't be changed.

Production Values

This movie, “” (2016) was directed by Sean Ellis who with Anthony Frewin also wrote its screen­play following historical research, including a book by Alan Burgess, Seven Men At Day­break. Of course some literary license was taken, but we can still follow the gist of the history. It stars Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy, and Brian Caspe. The acting was fairly credible.

MPAA rated it R for violence and some disturbing images. The music in it is minimal and mostly from an old record player. Many of the original, historical locations are used in the film adding an element of realism to a story that's already realistic. It's beautifully photographed with an eye to historical accuracy. There's nail-biting tension in the assassination and siege scenes, although the German, hardened professional soldiers come off more as new recruits. “Anthropoid” capitalizes on tight closeups of the faces of its two assassins who have infiltrated Nazi-occupied Prague. The spy trade-craft in this movie is not developed but passed off to our imagination.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

“Anthropoid” has a documentary look to it. A group of movie-goers wandered in from the cineplex not knowing from the title what the movie was about. “This is a war movie,” said one of them after a while. Then he added, “This is not a happy movie.” That about sums it up.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: None of the Above. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture was quoted from the Authorized Version, Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Roberts, J.M. A History of Europe. New York: Penguin Press, 1997. Print.