The first time I watched Anthropoid, it hit me really hard. It took me a couple of weeks to stop thinking about it but I’m really grateful for this experience. I think it helped me understand some things not just about me but also about the world we live in. You watch these shitty movies and after a while, you simply forget what a truly great movie looks and feels like. I wanted to recommend you this movie back in 2016 but after reading what I wrote, I realized I’m gonna have to watch it again.
And I knew that it was going to fuck me up. So I waited for a time when I felt like watching it. That time came this past Saturday after a couple of beers and a couple of shitty movies. I knew I was ready. This is a brutal and very intense movie depicting one of the darkest periods of the last century. Anthropoid is based on a true story about the World War II operation of the same name. So, everything you’re about to see really happened, and the characters we’re going to meet are also very real.
This always adds another dimension to a movie, as you can’t help but put yourself in their shoes and think about what would you do in that situation. Moreover, would you make the same choices they did? And finally, is there such a thing as “the right decision”? I thought a lot about this operation and its consequences and I came to the conclusion that it was still the right choice.
We will spend the first hour of the movie getting to know our lead characters. And not just that. We learn what was like in Prague back then and how things worked. I cannot bring myself to say that they could’ve trimmed at least 15 minutes from this section. It would help with the pacing but it would mess with the contrast. And the contrast is extremely stark. Once things start happening they fucking start happening. The action scenes feel very realistic and impactful. However, you simply cannot escape thinking about certain things.
Anthropoid is a very thought-provoking movie. It’s visceral, suspenseful, and without almost any melodrama. The script is excellent and the cast is simply superb. Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy gave incredibly strong performances, possibly best to date. We also shouldn’t forget about the Czechoslovakian side or a couple of memorable supporting actors like Harry Lloyd and Toby Jones. And you can bet your sweet ass that the sets, locations, costumes, and everything else looked awesome and authentic. The visuals are not sleek and shiny like in modern war movies like hilarious Fury but more coarse and grainy. This made the movie feel more personal.
It is the year of our Lord Satan (it must be his) 1942 and almost an entire continent of Europe is under the control of Nazi Germany. Everything but Hitler’s orders and Germany’s national interest is of no value. Everything that wasn’t directly linked with Nazi prosperity was expandable, human lives more so than other things. In this brutal competition of who will do more for the motherland, one man stood out. His full title and name is: Schutzstaffel (SS)-Obergruppenführer and General der Polizei Reinhard Heydrich.
Known as the Butcher of Prague and Blond Beast this was the man with an “iron heart” as Hitler called him, killing thousands of Czechoslovakians in his effort to tighten the Nazi grip around Czechoslovakia. A group of paratroopers, sent from London, landed in the vicinity of Prague at 22:00 on 28 December 1941. They are a part of a squad with one mission…
After a brief overview of what’s been going on during the war, a rather small in size title for this movie appears. Anthropoid means resembling a human being in form and what follows is a scene that was the first one to hit me. We see our two paratroopers, Jan and Josef warming up by the fire. I couldn’t shake this primordial feeling of our ancestors doing the same thing. Apart from this scene, all of the movie takes place in Prague. The fact that it’s shot on location adds even more to the immersion factor.
Plus, there’s a technical side to this story. How to pull off this mission in an occupied city with Germans looking for any signs of resistance? However, the thing that makes this movie hauntingly unforgettable are the people involved in this operation. Their bravery, intelligence, skill, and every good thing you can think of is something that’s awe inspiring. As I’m writing these lines I’m starting to tear up meaning it’s time to wrap this review up before I start boring the shit out of you.
I will dare to say that Anthropoid is the best war movie I have ever seen and definitely one of the best movies overall. Whenever people ask me about my favorite movies, I have to mention it and then stop myself from going into details about it. I want them to have the same experience I did. And then we can talk about things.
Director: Sean Ellis
Writers: Sean Ellis, Anthony Frewin
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Jamie Dornan, Toby Jones, Charlotte Le Bon, Anna Geislerová, Harry Lloyd
Fun Facts: The Man with the Iron Heart or HHhH came out just a year later starring Jack O’Connel and Jack Reynor, focusing on the same operation.