By KIRSTEN GRIESHABER, Associated Press Writer Thu Jul 19, 6:46 PM ET
BERLIN – Shooting began Thursday in a forest outside Berlin on a movie starring Tom Cruise as Germany’s most famous anti-Hitler plotter. The German government said it was letting filmmakers shoot anywhere they requested, except the former German general staff headquarters.
The so-called Bendler Block, where Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg was executed by firing squad 63 years ago Saturday, was off-limits, said government spokesman Torsten Albig, citing “the dignity of the place.”
Cruise plays Stauffenberg in “Valkyrie,” directed by Bryan Singer.
The movie set was cordoned off with yellow-and-black plastic tape in a pine forest near the village of Klein Koeris, 43 miles south of Berlin. Studio Babelsberg, the film’s German producers, confirmed that Cruise was on the set.
The government’s refusal to permit filming where Stauffenberg worked and died led to controversy about whether the 45-year-old actor’s religious beliefs had triggered the decision.
Cruise is one of Scientology’s best-known members. The German government considers Scientology a commercial enterprise that takes advantage of vulnerable people, and some critics maintain that one of its adherents shouldn’t be playing one of the Nazi-era’s few heroes.
Albig said the decision not to allow filming at the Bendler Block, now a memorial for Third Reich resistance fighters, had nothing to do with Cruise’s religion.
“We granted all permissions but the one, for the Bendler Block â€” because the dignity of this place should not be violated,” Albig said Thursday. “These circumstances show that the religious beliefs of the actor are without relevance.”
Stauffenberg and the other plotters of the July 20, 1944, assassination attempt were caught and executed after Hitler survived the explosion at his headquarters in what was then East Prussia.
“I can’t imagine shooting it anywhere else but on location in Germany, and I’m thrilled that we were able to get Tom Cruise to play Col. Stauffenberg,” Singer said in a statement released Thursday by the Babelsberg studio, which is co-producing the film with United Artists Entertainment LLC. The studio didn’t comment on the controversy. (Source: Yahoo)