MUNICH: THE EDGE OF WAR – Review by Susan Granger
Based on the 2017 best-seller by British novelist Robert Harris, Ben Power’s revisionist historical thriller revolves around two estranged Oxford University colleagues and their efforts to halt Hitler’s intended invasion of Europe.
Their sinister, somewhat aloof WWII story begins in 1932, when we first glimpse champagne-drenched best pals Hugh Legat (George McKay), Paul von Hartman (Jannis Niewohner) and Paul’s carefree Jewish girl-friend Lena (Liv Lisa Fries) cavorting at a garden party.
Shortly afterward, Hugh and Paul have a volatile disagreement when Paul becomes increasingly adamant about his romanticized, pro-Nazi political view of the Fatherland.
Six years later, as Hitler threatens to invade the Czech region known as the Sudetenland, Hugh has become a private secretary to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Jeremy Irons). But Hugh’s devotion to duty has taken its toll on his marriage to Pamela (Jessica Brown Findlay), affecting their young son.
Meanwhile, now-disillusioned Paul is working in the German Foreign Service office while becoming a secretly involved in an underground resistance effort.
When Chamberlain agrees to travel to Munich to meet with Hitler, along with French Prime Minister Daladier and Italy’s Benito Mussolini, to try to work out a peace agreement, Hugh becomes part of the British entourage when Paul indicates he is in possession of a top-secret document that proves Hitler’s duplicity and real global domination intentions.
FYI: Director Christian Schwochow filmed the ‘meeting’ sequence was at the building where the infamous Munich Conference took place, creating a vivid feeling of authenticity.
Once perceived as weak-willed politician, Jeremy Irons’ Neville Chamberlain reminds his entourage, “You’ve got to play the game with the hands your dealt.”
In interviews, novelist Robert Harris noted that Paul’s character was inspired by anti-Nazi German diplomat Adam von Trott zu Solz, executed in 1944 for his role in Claus von Stauffenberg’s failed plot to assassinate Hitler.
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Munich: The Edge of War” is a suspenseful, speculative 7, streaming on Netflix.