Anthropoid (adjective): having characteristics of a human being, usually in terms of shape or appearance. Derived from the Greek.
Operation Anthropoid: the dazzling escapades of the British Special Operations; a branch of which was operating in Prague, Czech Republic – as a retaliation force against the overwhelming Nazi Regime. This Czech-British operation resulted in the assassination of Nazi leader: Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich, feared among his colleagues, and a personal friend of Hitler’s, was known as the originator behind the Final Solution, which involved the eradication of over 6 million Jewish people.
Anthropoid adopted the moniker of this legendary incident, and it’s well suited – the film displays a perfect portrayal of the assassination, with seamless transition from historical documentation to the big screen. With such tact and vigor, thanks to the talents of director Sean Ellis, Anthropoid remains a crucial reminder of this major historical affair – one that remains eternally significant.
The operation begins as special forces are parachuted directly into the snowy depths of Eastern Europe in December 1941. This was at the height of Nazi influence; with Hitler’s party reaching it’s political zenith in the same year. The Nazi Party had, at that time, control over most of continental Europe.
Through a complicated network of issues, problems and close-calls, our heroes have their hand at the assassination attempt – and initially assume failure. However, Heydrich dies in hospice care on June 4th, 1942. A bittersweet victory, as the Nazi Party pays back in earnest, subsequently murdering thousands of Czech civilians.
Although plagued with a slow start, Anthropoid succeeds across the board. Our fellow conspirators against the growing Nazi menace, including Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan as conspicuous characters Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis respectfully, don a unique and audacious take towards the decades-old rebellion. These personalities fulfill much of the film’s sluggish parts with their own exciting tenure.
Anthropoid employs a grainy, almost rugged film – a neat aesthetic touch that enhances the experience, and encourages the brevity and sullenness of the human condition in those times. The visuals are fantastic, and the camera dynamics suit the fast-paced fabric of the movie.
The film also delivers on substance. Anthropoid inhabits drama, action and a complete totality of crushing nihilism and hopelessness; so much so, that you can’t help but feel the utmost sympathy for our protagonists. The Second World War was the bloodiest conflict in human history. Anthropoid showcases just how true that is.
To implore further, one must remember that the principle act of this medium is to immerse the viewer with fullness; and these performers simply do just that – to help us explore the terror of the Third Reich first-hand. With an atmosphere as dense as this – fraught with love, hate, sadness and melancholy – the film has an inviting air. It takes your hand through the past in a showcase of unfortunate sorrow, but for the better.
Sean Ellis’ Anthropoid is one of the best war films you’ll watch in a very long time. The feature serves as a lesson, for us – for the brunt of humanity and for our future progeny. Anthropoid has, without a doubt, succeeded in memorializing the lives of those lost for centuries to come.