30 April 2004 | Tarasicodissa
A comparison with "The Wannsee Conference"
I saw "The Wannsee Conference" several years ago and there are some differences in focus.
"The Wannsee Conference" in my opinion, focused more on Heydrich as the central figure. Eichmann was, frankly, Heydrich's shadow. In "Conspiracy" Eichmann is a stronger presence and a more terrifying bully. He is always degrading or humiliating someone below him in this film.
The Heydrichs were quite different. The Heydrich of "The Wannsee Conference" struck me as more of the "Blond Beast" as his terrified subordinates called him. A sociopath of Satanic purity motivated by no greed lesser than that for total domination of himself and everything around him. A man with no use whatsoever for any feelings, who despised sadism because even that is a feeling. A perfectionist of tremendous ability in anything he chose to do, without the least shred of humanity. I really didn't get that sense of pure unblinking malevolence from the Branagh of "Conspiracy" as I did from "The Wannsee Conference".
There is a third point. By the time of this conference Heydrich had had himself appointed ruler of Bohemia and Moravia which allowed him to report directly to Hitler. Another hat Heydrich wore, the hat in which he was chairing the conference, was head of the Office of Reich Security. As head of the Office of Reich Security the chiefs of the Gestapo and SD (intelligence) were HIS direct reports, not Himmlers. So not only was he out from under Himmler's physical supervision, not only could he filter everything that ended up on Himmler's desk, but he could report directly to a Hitler who adored him as prototype of the New German. Heydrich was Hitler's golden haired boy. He was everything Hitler could have wanted in a son. And Heydrich certainly saw himself as Hitler's ultimate heir. I believe that had the Nazis won he would have succeeded Hitler. Heydrich had pulled off the ultimate office politics coup, i.e., bypassing your boss, cutting him out of the loop, and reporting directly to his boss. He was a direct threat to Himmler at this point so his assassination by an SOE team was something Himmler probably took with a tremendous (secret) sigh of relief.
In "The Wannsee Conference" Heydrich is interrupted, I think twice, by phone calls from Himmler. In "Conspiracy" Eichmann flatly tells a subordinate that no calls are to be taken during the conference "except from Hitler and he won't call". I wondered, "What about Himmler who is nominally his boss's boss ? Refusing to take a phone call from your boss is total disrespect for his authority.". Is this a difference in viewpoint between the two films ? That the Heydrich of "Conspiracy" is so confident of his role as Hitler's surrogate son and heir that he can blow off Himmler while the Heydrich of "The Wannsee Conference" is not ?