ONE OF THE GREATEST CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY WAS PERPETRATED IN JUST OVER AN HOUR.
On a winter day in 1942, a selected number of Nazis in high positions gather in a villa on Lake Wannsee to discuss the final solution to the Jew problem. A German TV movie, The Wannsee Conference (1984), remains the authoritative version, but this HBO production is very solid. It has the appearance of a filmed play, with long, uninterrupted sequences and plenty of dialogue. The men in the villa enjoy fine wine, crack jokes and argue with each other, but underneath it all is the cold cruelty of the matter at hand. The actors are very good, especially Kenneth Branagh as the pleasant, but thoroughly evil Reinhard Heydrich.
2001-U.S.-U.K. 96 min. Color. Produced by Nick Gillott. Directed by Frank Pierson. Teleplay: Loring Mandel. Cast: Kenneth Branagh (Reinhard Heydrich), Stanley Tucci (Adolf Eichmann), Colin Firth (Wilhelm Stuckart), Jonathan Coy, Brendan Coyle, Ben Daniels… Tom Hiddleston.
Trivia: The story was also told in another German TV movie, The Conference (2022).
Emmys: Outstanding Actor (Branagh), Writing. Golden Globe: Best Supporting Actor (Tucci).
Last word: “I had to go outside for a little while. I just felt the cumulative weight of it all. At all times I was reminded that this happened: It was not a fiction. It happened in a room like this, and it took only 90 minutes, and this man, this fantastically intelligent man Heydrich, was at the heart of it. I just felt this underlying revulsion at what happened and at the man himself. I didn’t want to say the lines. It was the most disturbing experience of my 20-year acting career.” (Branagh on shooting the film, Jewish Journal)