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On january 20 1942 at the height of the second world war 15 government officials and ss commanders attended a conference on the outskirts of berlin. It was a simple meeting which by the end would decide the fate of six million lives. Conspiracy is based on the only surviving record of that meeting. Studio: Hbo Home Video Release Date: 03/29/2005 Starring: Kenneth Branagh Colin Firth Run time: 96 minutes Rating: R Director: Frank Pierso

On January 20, 1942, with the tide of war turning in favor of the Allies, a small group of SS officers, government ministers, and Nazi officials met near Berlin to decide the fate of Europe's Jews. Based on the only surviving record of that meeting, Conspiracy is a powerful combination of historical reconstruction and speculation that attempts to offer new insights into a pivotal moment in history.

The cast does a marvelous job of fleshing out the documentary evidence to create convincing characters. Kenneth Branagh is especially chilling as SS Chief of Security Reinhard Heydrich, who uses a combination of charm and ruthless power-mongering to gain support for his plans. Colin Firth is fascinating as Wilhelm Stuckart, a lawyer who sees the brutal tactics of the SS as a threat to his own intellectualized anti-Semitism, and Stanley Tucci gives a wonderfully understated performance as Adolf Eichmann.

Conspiracy is a carefully crafted, completely unsensational film that offers ample proof of the banality of evil. There are no histrionics and no comic-book Nazi villains, just a small group of politicians and war-weary soldiers arguing about the meaning of words and the logistics of extermination, calmly preparing to unleash an unimaginable horror on the world. --Simon Leake

Customer Reviews:

  • Very fine docudrama
    'Conspiracy' is a rare thing, a TV movie that only gets better every time you watch it.

    Not that you want to watch it very often, as it's essentially a dramatisation of how the Third Reich came to make its decisions about how the extermination of European Jewry should be planned and carried out. The Nazis called a conference in a villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee; after it was over, all those who attended were sent copies of the minutes, and they were supposed to destroy these copies fairly swiftly. However, one attendee failed to do so. This last remaining copy of the minutes of the Wannsee Conference is one of the (many) major pieces of evidence that the Nazis planned the destruction of the European Jews at the highest level, and that it was not merely something that just sort of happened.

    'Conspiracy' is a beautifully conceived and intelligently executed movie. The genius of it is that it's basically a movie about a committee meeting. We see the preparation of the buffet (the food looks truly yummy); we see everyone arriving and making small talk; we get a tantalising glimpse of the office politics; we get little glimpses of who has high status and who has low. The SS men (Barnaby Kay and Peter Sullivan) are tired, battle-hardened and cynical. The guy in charge of planning the economic future of the Reich (Ewan Stewart) is a naive and hopeful drone, constantly introducing himself to people and being snubbed in return. The lawyer who drew up the Nuremberg laws regarding the legal status of German Jews (Colin Firth), laws that this conference is about to consign to the dustbin of history, is simmering with barely-suppressed anger and resentment. Not because he's angry about the way Jews are being treated, but because he can see that all his hard work is about to be brushed aside. The only person in the room who appears to have anything resembling sympathy for the Jews is the representative of the Reich Chancellery (David Threlfall), and he's too pussy to do anything about it.

    The acting honours go to all, as this is a real ensemble piece. But it's worth mentioning Stanley Tucci, who presents Adolf Eichmann as a classic kiss-up-kick-down middle management guy, nodding and smiling at his leader's taste in music and then dismissing it with contempt once the boss has left the room; and especially Kenneth Branagh as the top man at the conference, Reinhard Heydrich, who was at the time the head of the SS Security Service and one of the most feared men in Europe. The light-hearted way in which Branagh warns Firth not to try to stop the SS from doing whatever the hell it wants (because, he casually remarks as he lights a cigarette, 'there is no shortage of meathooks' in the Third Reich) is truly chilling. Branagh never scowls, never grimaces, never gets angry, never bullies anyone, never loses his glamorous cool. He smiles and smiles and smiles, but the implicit threat is always there. It's a great performance.

    The script is incredibly economical, and expands on the historical evidence in a way that I (who have read quite a bit on the subject) find to be a respectable balance between the historically plausible and the dramatically effective. The direction is subtle and intelligent. Nobody here is presented as a spooky evil villain - the film is about the many ways in which they convince themselves that they're doing the right thing. And the acting, like I said, is top-notch. I would recommend this film to be shown in schools. It shows what happens when people think that their cause is so righteous that it justifies any kind of behaviour.

    ...more info
  • The Best Movie to Take Place in One Room Ever?
    I will admit to being a pain to watch DVDs with; I am anxious to pause the film and comment on it while it's in progress.

    One would think that I would find ample reasons to "pause" a movie about a Nazi board meeting which mostly takes place in a single room. Instead, I watched the film in its entirety, jaw agape at the brilliant acting and then enjoyed a discussion with my father (a WWII historian) about it.

    Recommended for the thoughtful and curious....more info
  • Bureaucratic Evil
    An absolutely chilling film wherein nothing really happens except a round table discussion. Seated around the table are fifteen well dressed high-ranking Nazi officers and officials calmly plotting the deaths of millions of innocent people. I've seen it several times. Each time it is better, providing a deeper glimpse of just what it is we are up against, what we are always up against: evil. ...more info
  • Well Done!!!
    Wow. Eichman and Heydrich calmy discussing the fate of millions over a buffet business meeting. One could not imagine how could this be possible but it actually happened in less than 2 hours! Chilling in detail, horrifying in content, The fate of Europe's jews were decided in an almost casual, cold detached business-like manner. The acting was superb. If you are interested in the Third Reich or a serious student of History this dvd is for you....more info
  • "We have accomplished something."
    "Dead men don't hump, Dead women don't get pregnant. Death is the most effective form of sterilization."

    This movie shows the cumulation of Hermann Goering's infamous "War Quote." Goering asked Gustave Gilbert in the Nuremburg War Trials this: "Why would some slob on a farm want to risk his life in war when all he will hope to get out of it is to come home in one piece if he survives." Goering reiterates the point to Gilbert that it is the LEADERS of a nation who guide the people into a war, whether in a democracy or a facaist state.

    Conspiracy is a movie that portrays the leaders of the Nazi State planning and putting into operation the Holocaust (Shoah) that Hitler, Himmler and Goering so carefully planned and demanded. It is the factual portrayal of the infamous "Wansee Conference" where death and murder are shrouded in such words as "Relocation and Elimination." What was so incredible is that the conference was like a Family Reunion for the Nazi brass, including cigars, exquisite food and brotherly comeraderie.

    In my opinion, Stanley Tucci should have played Heydrich, because he looks more like Heydrich than does Kenneth Branach. Yet the performance of Branach is perfect. Some may have felt that Branach may have "humanized" the monster Heydrich by portraying him as so suave and debonaire. Yet those who have studied the Nazi's tell of a Heydrich as leader of occupied Czechoslovakia as a man with a carrot on a stick in one hand and a knife in the other hand. This quality of Heydrich is perfectly reinacted by Branach. Cool, pragmatic, yet with a heart of stone and the eyes of a snake. And ALWAYS interested primarily on his position and how to enrich it and finding ways and means of skimming more power for himself.

    Tucci plays an excellent Eichmann, plotting with a bureaurocrat's precision on how to manipulate Eichmanns plan by rerouting railroad timetables to produce the desired result: "relocating" the European jewish population to the planned "old age camps" in Poland to eliminate the "Jewish sphere of influence."

    It didnt matter that factual and ghastly details of those "camps" were openly and candidly discussed among cigatette smoke and the spectacle of that fat "Kloffner"-the mouthpiece of Martin Boorman-stuffing his mouth with food all the time and disgustingly always exusing himself to the "little boy's room."

    In this age of "Preemptive, preventative wars" plotted by American leadership, it gives one reason to ponder Goering's quote, and the crisp businesslike approach of killing . And it leaves one to wonder how many of Today's ghastly headlines are birthed and nurtured in such rich comfortable surroundings, with the food, wine and cigars shown in this film!

    "We have accomplished something!"- Reinhard Tristin Eugen Heydrich...more info

    The other critics have nearly said it all, so just a few additional comments:

    This short film is remarkably well written, and very well directed, filmed, and acted. The production values are first-rate. The supporting actors are all very good. Tucci is always a very reliable actor, and he's very good here.

    However, the real star of the show is Branagh, who brings his Shakespearean experience to the project. His smallest word or jesture is superb. And since the film is so very well written, Branagh has excellent material with which to work. But the film is worth having for Branagh's acting alone. I've already watched this film several times, and the acting is so finely nuanced, the dialogue so fine, that it continues to be remarkable....more info
  • History Remembered
    Great Movie Cast....Eye Opening Story Of A Time In History That Must Never Be Forgotten.Victims Of The Final Solution Must Never Be Forgotten.We Must Respect One Another..Not Destroy Each Other. A Must See Movie To View...A++++++++++...more info
  • A Warning for A Controlled Media
    This ensemble war film should be dragged out every time someone complains of a controlled bias press "under war conditions." We have learned in the past decade that at least 2 tribunes operate beyond public scrutiny in our "democratic government." This film is the answer to those who argue for secrecy when a nation operates under the mantle of war for a half century, and attempts to revise the Geneva Convention for the consumption of its troops. A nation must wake up when its lawyers fall in line with the mongrel dogs of war....more info
  • Conspiracy
    A good historical film that shows us how one of historys darkest chapters unfolded....more info
  • Superb
    I have read a couple of the other views and can make no comment on the historical accuracy of the portrayal of the Wansee Meeting that Conspiracy purports to represent. Nontheless Conspiracy is a shocking but brilliant drama and I struggle to think of a bad performance. In particular I thought the performances of Kenneth Branaugh and Colin Firth were brilliant. This is definitely a film to watch. ...more info
  • 3.5 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    It's hard to think of a single misstep made by this impeccable made-for-TV movie that's not worthy of that pejorative term; with chilling performances, inventive and claustrophobic direction, and a brisk pace, this is quite a film....more info
  • chilling
    I just happened to stumble on this when it first showed on HBO, and was tickled to see it on dvd. Absolutly fascinating to watch a room full of nazis sit and eat and drink and smoke and smooze..and calmly discuss the best method to extinguish and entire race of people. A great look at the depths of human evil....more info
  • Overacted and overdramatized
    I have no issues with the substance of the film; its interpretation of the intentionally vague surviving record of the Wannsee Conference is as plausible as any other. However, especially when compared to the earlier German production "Die Wannseekonferenz" (available in this country only on VHS), it is seriously defective as a historical reenactment. It starts with the silly overflight scene at the beginning and the waiter dropping the dishes at the beginning and then gets worse. Many of the characters are ridiculously overacting and become almost caricatures, especially the vulgar, pork-faced Klopfer, but also Kritzinger, who would be great playing an English aristocrat, but fails utterly at the portrayal of a faceless German bureaucrat. To add drama, the meeting seems to be interrupted constantly by food breaks, and Eichmann puts more effort into his role as catering manager than anything else. The breaks, none of which seem documented during what was a very short meeting, also give the director plenty of opportunity to add more fictional tension, bathroom discussions, and interaction between characters. There is little indication that there was as much interpersonal conflict as depicted here. The German version has some of the same weaknesses, but much milder; in "Conspiracy", they become much too distracting....more info
  • The Nazi mind
    This movie give some insight into the darkness that was the Nazi's solution to the "Jewish Problem"
    It's interesting to see that "Kenneth Branagh" has the same demeanor in this movie as he does in Harry Potter. (Professor Gilderoy Lockhart)
    ...more info
  • Conspiracy with Kenneth Branagh
    Never received product. I e-mailed seller, dvdlegacy, and they never responded. Amazon issued a refund. ...more info
  • Excellent dramatization of the Wannsee Conference
    The cast says it all: Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich, Stanley Tucci as Eichmann, Colin Firth as the co-author of the Nuremberg laws, and virtually every other English-speaking actor of note working today. Based on the transcript of the actual Wannsee Conference, filmed at the house in Berlin's Wannsee district where the real conference occurred, the matter-of-fact way in which these high government and military officials decide how and where to kill all of Europe's Jews is blood curdling. The performances are uniformly excellent, with Branagh and Tucci worthy recipients of Emmys. The film, also and Emmy winner for best drama, educates and enlightens, and even entertains as it explores the psyches of these ordinary men who sat down and decided to kill 6 million people because they could....more info
  • Deadly Dry... But That's Not A Bad Thing
    A ninety minute dramatization of the infamous "Final Solution" meeting where a little over a dozen high-ranking wartime Germans got together and talked, in euphemistic, statistical, and theoretical terms, about mass murder. The film spices things up by showing the rivalry behind the usually monolithic-looking Nazi Party, but the lesson to take from this one is, indeed, the dryness. Here is a bunch of mere men talking about killing millions of people with no more morality than a board meeting talking about advertising strategies. The most impassioned argument against murder comes not from any sort of love or compassion, but rather as an argument of the primacy of -already blatantly racist and anti-Semetic- laws. The most conscientious member of the panel is reduced to arguing that should all the Jews be killed, what else will there be for Nazism to work for?

    History has shown that the Holocaust and crimes like it are not fantastic, extraordinary things. Once it gets to the point of systematic extermination, it is absolutely banal. Once things become banal, even normal bureaucratic mooks, such as Eichmann, can involve themselves and still sleep at night. This movie exemplifies that; the awe and shock comes not so much from what is portrayed as what is wholly missing: the better points of humanity....more info
  • Coldly brilliant
    The film documents a meeting held during WW2, when SS second-in-command, Reinhard Heydrich, assembles a group of Nazi bureaucrats and functionaries to 'discuss the final solution of the Jewish question'. In the sublime surroundings of a German country house, the assembled mingle for drinks, enjoy a first class buffet lunch and debate whether execution or sterilisation is the most efficient option of eliminating an entire race of people.
    Credit must be given to Kenneth Branagh who propels the entire piece with one of the best portrayals on screen in memory. He is utterly convincing in the role of a man who epitomises the classic definition of evil: not just the doing of wrong, but the perversion of the human spirit so that it no longer has any perception of the good.
    Overall this is an excellent film that benefits from great acting, a great script and great direction.
    ...more info
  • Super Movie
    This movie is really good to have. It really brings home again how terrible a thing it was about the Nazis killing the Jews. A good movie to make a older teenage sit down and watch to understand history's violence and agression. ...more info
  • Manuel Vidal. Es una pel¨ªcula que captura la decisi¨®n sobre la soluci¨®n final
    En esta pel¨ªcula se muestra la banalidad que acompa?¨® a la discusi¨®n en la cual se decidi¨® la soluci¨®n final para la "Judenfrage" o "Cuesti¨®n jud¨ªa". Es un complemento que aporta mucho a la comprensi¨®n del libro de Hannah Arendt: "El juicio de Eichmann en Jerusal¨¦n". La pregunta entre los asistentes a la reuni¨®n de Wannsee no radicaba en si era bueno o no acabar a un pueblo entero, no entre todos abirtamente, sino en c¨®mo hacerlo m¨¢s eficaz, eficiente y efectivamente al menor costo para el Reich. Sugiero complementar esta pelicula con el libro mencionado y con "The Nazis, a warning from history", dcumental excelente de la BBC, y con las pel¨ªculas "Rosa blanca" o "Sophie Scholl", y "Out of the ashes", adem¨¢s de "Los falsificadores", "Napola" y otras tantas. Es una pel¨ªcula que sin salir de la reuni¨®n, hace pensar en la gravedad de la banalidad frente al mal, de c¨®mo lo potencia. Para hacer el mal extremo no hay que ser un mostruo o un demonio, basta con ser banal....more info
    This film is another relatively unknown HBO made for TV gem. It is based on the minutes of an actual meeting in 1942 of Nazi Department Heads. All the notes were to have been destroyed but one copy survived. This was a meeting convened by Adolf Eichmann in a suburban mansion outside Berlin. The agenda: what to do about the Jewish storage problem. With the Nazi war machine devouring the German treasury, they had to make a decision about all the Jews in work camps that were becoming very expensive to maintain. Until this point, there had been no overall German plan for dealing with the 'Jewish problem'. This meeting determined the fate of millions of Jewish citizens. The film does not try to sensationalize or over dramatize this event. In many ways, it comes across as a corporate board of directors meeting or cabinet level meeting for government. Evil can be so cold and calculating and seemingly rational. This is a reminder that evil does not always or often come in frenzied, worked up packages but often through the distorted worldview of 'normal' people like all of us. A well done, tightly scripted movie with excellent performances by the cast that will give you chills when you consider the ramifications of one hour of time with these 15 men. The setting (basically one room) and intensity remind me of 12 ANGRY MEN. Watch a piece of history that changed our world forever. ...more info
  • Excellent and intense movie
    If your into WWII or Nazi Germany movies this is the type of movie you would like, based on a true story comes this movie which depics a meeting among many high leaders of the third reich (political, social, military, cultural, etc.) under the Fhurer instructions in order to decide the fate of the Jews population, here is where the final solution was agreed, the movie goes on all in the same location but the arguments, the debates, the historical facts, makes it so intense that you don't even feel the tedious of being in the same house all the time. If you would it may be similar to those Nuremberg Trial movies but here is an open free debate where the Jews are consider a thing or an illness that they need to get rid off.
    Outstanding is the characterization by Keneth Branagh of General Heydrich, ruthless, cold but overall showing them as thinkers a different view as of the madness of Nazis beleived by the public....more info
    Brrrrrrr....wear a warm coat while watching this one. The masterful portrayal of evil this calculated, this methodical, this bureaucratic, this systematic will make your blood run cold.
    ...more info
  • Watch it before Nuremberg Trial movie
    This movie is surreal, true and weird to watch. Am not from Europe, and my country was not affected by the Nazis. So my views may be unclouded with emotion, but may also sound harsh to some. My apologies in advance.
    1) The movie is how the Nazis view the Jews. Period.
    2) The General heading the conference states that Germany has exhausted all options to "purge" europe of all jews, "from Belfast to Belgrade". No Free country in Europe is willing to take jews. Not even USA. So, if USA had agreed to accept the expelled jews, would not millions have been saved? Probably USA has that guilty conscience today?
    3) Hitler's constitutional inability to decide comes to the fore when he authorises a person to talk about the question of purging of jews, but gives authority to the General to annihilate them. This leads to a major clash. The chancellery representative clearly states that Hitler told him that Purging was the only option, not annihilation. His words: "Purge the Jews, yes. But annihilate them...that we have undertaken to systematically annihilate all the Jews of Europe? No. That possibility has been personally been denied to me by The Fuhrer! "
    to which the General coldly replies: "and it will continue to be." That left me stunned.
    4) Many of the SS and Nazi party members are clearly unsettled with the prospect of annihilation. They want the jews to be pushed out of sight, not mass-murdered. But they support the person who killed 30,000 jews in Krakow. Weird. Very Weird. The Reich must have been a surreal land.
    5) Martin Bormann's representative, a jowled old idiot is every bit the Nazi partyman: ruthless, idiotic and smug.
    6) The Germans are very careful in following laws and making the whole purge as lawful as possible. They study the Race laws of Nuremberg and make sure it is followed. So the myth of lawless nazis is a clear lie. The "imposition of ad-hoc law" as the nuremberg laws creator states.
    7) First-degree Jews will be sterilized forcibly. If you watch the movie Nuremberg Trials you will see the Germany lawyer arguing in favor of Judge Ernst Janning that sterilization of a particular witness was done because of his lack of mental ability and NOT due to race. So...
    8) The General clearly states that deciding who is a jew or not (3/4 blood, blah, blah) will decide solely with SS: thus sealing their fate.
    ...more info
  • Gripping!
    This film, in it's non-challant HBO movie style, approaches the subject of the Final Solution. Really, that is the subject of the movie. The juxtoposition of the peaceful mansion with the subject of the meeting only hightens the sense that this film is showing something real. All of the performances are excellent. For me the performances of Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth are especially poignant.
    Overall a superbly acted telling of an astonishing moment in history....more info
  • Superb
    Just in case the preceeding reviews don't settle the question, I'll add my unqualified rave to the list.

    The subject matter of this film is important for many reasons and is equally full of dramatic potential - this movie makes the most of both. The screenplay is constructed like a Beethoven symphony - logical, constantly moving forward, boiling with energy. The script, presumably, is based on the original transcript of the conference. The acting - well - how can one praise it enough? The human drama - the constant interplay of personal politics, intellectual fencing, bestial attitudes and genuine emotional reactions to the subject matter being discussed - it's captivating from first to last. And the last scenes are superbly poignant - the final intimate focus on both Heydrich and Eichmann as shallow men and profound monsters, the use of Schubert (as both reference and musical score) to underline the moral desolation and irony at hand, the final roll call to enumerate the sober injustice of the participants' ultimate fate.

    This is yet another HBO movie which raises the bar for American cinema, proving that one can still make a great statment on film without either large budgets or avant garde methods. I can watch this over and over and always get something new out of the experience - which, of course, is the very best recommendation for actually purchasing a movie on DVD. Buy it and watch it often....more info
  • Branagh Shines as Heydrich
    I missed this film when it originally aired since I do not have HBO. However, a friend of mine brought it to my attention about 4 years ago and I am glad he did. For an entire film taking place (for the most part) in one room, it is amazingly riveting. Watching these Nazi's sitting around the table eating, drinking, and joking while they discuss the "final solution" is quite chilling. Those familiar with the Wansee Conference will respect the accuracy of the portrayal of events while those new to this will simply be shocked at the casual discussions about the most serious of subjects.

    Kenneth Branagh stands out in a superior cast in the role of Reinhard Heydrich. He comes across as the coldest and most unfeeling of the lot with frightening effect. Stanley Tucci's portrayal of Adolph Eichmann is good, if somewhat out-of-sync with historical perseptions of his role at the meeting.

    I highly recommend this film to anyone curious about this period in history....more info
  • "Emigration is OVER"
    Conspiracy is yet another take on WWII and the usual Germans vs Jews story.
    This time it is the director's version of how the SS imposed the plan calling for the forced labor and eventual extermination of the Jews on the German government making it the state's official policy.
    Kenneth Branagh and the rest of the cast carry out their performances very well, though Stanley Tucci in an effort to portray his character (Eichmann) in as much negative light as possible overdoes it in trying to be "evil." In addition, the director as well is overzealous in his efforts to depict the Germans in as much an unfavourable way as possible so we see them as obese or overly frail or weak of mind/will etc.
    Is a normal, flat and direct representation too much to ask these days?
    Moreover, "Rated R for Language???" Are you kidding? If you're going to have it rated R at least give it the sex and/or the violence. If not, give it the proper rating i.e. PG-13.
    That said, by no means is it a bad movie.
    Though it is not historically accurate and it is all speculation (in the end it is stated that only a single document was found indicating that something of the sort had occurred), it is indeed an interesting film that will provide for an evening's entertainment.
    ...more info
  • A must have collection item
    I decided to order this DVD because my wife was so impressed with the revealing story and excellent actors.

    Obviously, decisions were already made and some actions were already underway (gasing of Jews) while talks were still going on at the meeting table.
    A very shrewd move by Hitler to justify his immoral intention by coercing parties from all sides to approve it.
    Hitler and his henchmen certainly knew how to highjack democracy to their advantages.
    Personally, I feel the movie was very fast paced despite zero actions.
    Exchange of words was fast so watching it a few more times is necessary.

    The only thing that stopped me from giving it a 5 star is the lack of extras like behind the scenes or more detailed descriptions of the historical figures featured in the movie.
    ...more info
  • World War II's Corporate Boardroom Meeting
    In real life, the most evil of deeds are typically done - not on battlefields with elaborate explosions or down-to-the-last-minute red-button-punching - but in boardrooms. Tough to hear? In the corporate world that now ravishes our planet, the evil broods in secrecy around oak tables with those surrounded by power and wealth. I hate to say these things, but it is the truth of our society. That is why I felt a sense of overwhelming horror as I watched "Conspiracy" unfold before my eyes. There were no explosions, no CGI, no eloquent speech made by some overpowering madman - it was a business meeting. A meeting like no other that raised hairs on my neck and demonstrated the power of language. HBO has done it again with this amazingly short film (running at around an hour and a half) about the birth of evil and the construction of genocide. Like no other horror or suspense film, "Conspiracy" draws from the unknown, but is purely historical.

    "Conspiracy" is a talking film, so to make sure audiences do not fall asleep through the eloquent words, it is helmed by two masters of the cinematic trade - Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci. Together, these two plus a cast that had to be hand selected as the "best of the best", give us one of the scariest moments in our world's history - the planning of the death of millions of Jews. In a boardroom, not unlike ones we have seen in nearly every film, director Frank Pierson gives us faces, language, events, and decisions made leading to the most hideous moment of our history. As mentioned, helmed by two masters, we are taken back to a world filled with hared and laws, and through the course of the two hours new laws are created and a new "evacuation" process is decided. Our players, all facets of the German government, enter through lavish doors, eat elaborate meals, drink fascinating wine, and smoke elusive cigars as they argue laws, rules, Hitler's wish, but never humanity. Enemies are made, men are instantly transformed from typical followers of the government into monumental evil-doers of history - all through the course of a meal. Rather an average day for a very non-typical gathering.

    The story is simple. The words are the true leaders, while those speaking them gives performances of a lifetime. This is not a light film in anyway. The gorgeous scenery (or what little we see of it) sets the mood of the day, while the meal - to me - gives us the sense of cannibals, or animals, after a major defeat. What appealed to me the most of this film was the genius - and I hate to use this word - behind Heydrich and Eichmann, from the beginning of the film they knew who they were working with, what they day would entail, and how to make sure that each of their constituents would agree on the final solution. It was a forum of power, an expression of the truth, and a simple two hours that would result in decades of horror. I enjoyed this film, not because of the true historic overall result, but how it was put together, the players, and the raw energy that emoted from this simple hour and a half. I apologize for over-emphasizing the time frame, but it was shocking to me to see the history pages written in just this short amount of time. As stated before, Branagh was nothing short of amazing, the eloquence of his words (again - words were important in this film), the sharp intellect, and strong ability to sell anyone into anything coupled well with the quiet, pencil-pushing man that Tucci portrayed as Eichmann. These two carried this film, but not without the help of Ian McNeice, Colin Firth, Owen Teale, or Kevin McNally to name just a few. This was an ensemble feature, and everyone pulled their weight to create this devastatingly shocking film. This film, the style of the camera that Pierson used, reminded me of a retelling of "Twelve Angry Men". That too was a wordy film, creating the tension with nouns and verbs, instead of the over-hyped CGI.

    My only complaint, isn't with the film at all, but the lack of special features. HBO typically doesn't go too overboard with their special features, and this is a prime example. I would have loved to have an audio commentary or two to discuss the true historical elements or to hear how Pierson was able to control his actors and bring out so much from them in such a small area. I think it would have benefited viewers further to get a "history" lesson, instead of the typical interviews with actors saying how "honoring" it was to play such a character. I could have used without that. Nothing else included, but maybe it would have overshadowed the power of this film ... hmmmm?

    Overall, I cannot say this enough, but this was a spectacular film. Whether you watch it for the historical element or for the sheer brilliance of the actors, you will not be disappointed. This was a dark two hours for the world, which engulfed a race for a very long time. This was the boardroom of evil, equipped with a full supply of wine, cigars, and a plan for "evacuation".

    It just terrifies me that it all began with just a simple "storage" problem - how could we do it?

    Grade: ***** out of ***** ...more info
  • Something we all ought to see
    In January 1942, at an elegant villa at Berlin-Wannsee, a group of Nazi officials from various ministries and departments, the majority educated, cultured men, many with higher degrees, came together under the chairmanship of SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, head of the RSHA (Reich Main Security Office, which covered all of Germany's police forces). In a few hours, which included some elegant dining, they basically decided the fate of European Jewry. It was as if they were deciding on a programme of vermin extermination, which, in the eyes of fanatical Nazis, it was. No consideration of the humanity of these people was given. Herr Dr. Stuckart, lawyer and proud author of the Nuremburg Racial Laws, was concerned with their proper, meticulous observance. This was his sole bone of contention, not the basic fact that an entire group of humans was to be marginalised and deported from the Reich, not because of anything they'd done, but because of who they were. Indeed, the only minor concessions were those who were had "German" (non-Jewish) spouses and "Mischlinge" (mixed race people). Of all the many inhumanities of man to man, this surely ranks as one of, if not the, greatest iniquities ever perpetrated.

    This meeting was not only to decide on the Final Solution, but also to establish the supremacy of the RSHA over all other German departments in the matter. And Heydrich, with the help of his Hebrew-speaking time-and-motion man Adolf Eichmann, got what he wanted.

    Having recently read Mark Roseman's "The lake, the villa, the meeting" and now knowing how little we know about what was actually said at Wannsee (only one protocol survives and the accounts of the survivors are probably self-serving and justifying), I was curious as to how one produced a dramatised version. The answer is, very impressively. Naturally nobody knows what was really said, as all notes and records were destroyed, but the whole production has the ring of truth about it.

    In the middle of it all was ringmaster Reinhard Heydrich, chillingly played here by Kenneth Branagh. Heydrich works his potential opponents, sometimes in the meeting, sometimes in quiet asides over food. The geniality of the Branagh character was probably much more that that of the real Heydrich, who had the reputation of being somewhat of a cold fish and a thoroughly nasty individual, but it's a wonderful performance, with steel under the geniality, rapidly emerging at the first hint of resistance to his ideas.

    All in all, a nicely-acted, chilling production of a monstrous misdeed, and it all happened within living memory in one of the world's most civilised, cultured countries. If that doesn't scare you, nothing will. Could it happen again? Of course it could, so we must always be on our guard against people who know all the answers.

    One minor irritation for finicky me. The opening scene has a view of Heydrich's plane coming in to land, taken from above. The wings bear swastikas, instead of the Luftwaffe's "Balkenkreuz" (the swastika was placed only on vertical tail surfaces). Perhaps the producers saw the need to use the symbol of evil to set the scene right from the start. ...more info
  • Evil as banal as a business meeting led by a bully and his detail man
    This movie is a depiction of the now famous Wannsee conference at which high ranking Nazi and German government leaders met to coordinate and implement the genocide of the Jewish people within the borders of the lands they controlled. We know about the conference from an eight page summary of the meeting that was in the papers of one of those officials, Martin Luther, from what other attendees said about it before they died, and also from what we know was actually done to implement this "Final Solution". None of the gassings, shootings, executions of all types, forced labor, or medical experimentation happened by chance, well maybe some did, but the majority of the effort were the carryout of the direction began at this meeting in 1942 in a wealthy suburb of Berlin in a villa by a lake.

    What a chilling film! It is so bureaucratic that they could be talking about munitions for the war, or supplying soldiers with boots and blankets. Yet, they are talking about their noxious racial theories and the problems they are having removing the Jews from civil society, housing them, and even killing them in volume.

    The interpersonal dynamics and especially the techniques of dominance and manipulation used by the leader of the meeting, Reinhard Heydrich, is a stunning depiction of a monster pushing and prodding others into implementing his nightmare by "choice". Everyone has to sign off, but he masterfully anticipates and suppresses any public objection. This should be used in b-schools everywhere to stimulate discussions in interpersonal dynamics and groupthink. Of course, the horrible subject matter would probably prevent it being used, because it would be almost impossible to separate the discussion of the interpersonal dynamics from the chilling goal of the meeting.

    Evil looks so banal and here we see monstrous evil as common as a business meeting at a luxury resort led by a bully and his detail man. And this led to the mass extermination of millions.

    A should see. The cast is brilliant and the screenplay is excellent....more info
  • How do you kill 6 million people, with the stroke of a pen
    This is a most chilling movie and is far more sinister and frighting than a horror movie because it HAPPENED!
    On January 20,1942, outside of Berlin a group of men met and decided the "Final Solution" to the problem of the displaced Jews. The whole cast is fantastic and make the horrific task they are talking about seem as just any other board meeting going on anywhere.
    Kenneth Branagh is a wonder as Heydrich, the architect of plan, you can feel the vemon drip off him. A very fine movie about man's worst hour....more info
  • Low Budget Genius
    I know it's been said before, but I have to say that it's amazing what you can do when you get an outstanding cast of actors together with an outstanding script. This film is basically like a one act play. Very simple, no scene changes, no special effects, but boy does it work!

    This film is a dramatization of the meeting where Hitler's leading men decided the fate of six million jews. Probably, the most disturbing thing about the film is that everything seems so commonplace, like an ordinary business meeting. These men, apart from their politics, seem like ordinary men that you meet and work with everyday and yet their plans resulted in the death of six million people.

    Dr. Stuckart is an interesting character. He objects to the plan because it goes against the established laws which he devised. He favors sterilization as opposed to death because he believes, perhaps rightly, that the world would not condemn such milder measures.

    Dr. Kritzinger is perhaps the one person at the meeting who had courage enough to object on humanitarian grounds. At the Nuremberg trials he was the only one who openly showed regret and remorse over the mass killings. But when the SS General Heydrich threatens him he grudgingly gives approval at the meeting.

    The movie serves as a sharp warning to us. If we do not fight to preserve the principles that our society was founded on such as the inherent value of each individual, the rights outlined in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and loving your neighbor as yourself then these principles probably will not be preserved. It would be to easy for some megalomaniac to come along and lead people down the wrong path.

    My only wish is that the writers and director might have aimed for a PG or PG-13 rating and thus make the film more accessible to a wider audience....more info
  • Couldn't turn away
    You have heard or read someone describe a book by saying "I couldn't put it down". Same goes for this movie. Gripping, dramatic, must see, etc.. all apply to this movie.

    Very unique movie and extremely entertaining. All the performances were fantastic, period, however, Colin Firth as Stuckart (I probably misspelled that) was, to use another trite phrase, brilliant. He is obviously a classically trained actor and it shows. Again, all were fantastic.

    I am not sure how historically accurate it is, but it is one of the best movies I have seen in a long time....more info
  • Truly Chilling
    Conspiracy may be one of the most chilling movies ever made. Recreating the Wannsee conference of 1942, at which SS General Reinhard Heydrich and the infamous Colonel Adolf Eichmann essentially formulated the "Jewish Solution". The sheer terror of this movie doesn't include axe murderers or demented psychos in hockey masks - it's the way in which Heydrich (played by Kenneth Branagh) gets the consensus for what is basically his way to solve the problem of the European Jews.

    Conspiracy won't appeal to everyone to be sure. History buffs will love this movie as will those who enjoy the psychological cut and thrust of the intellectual debate....more info
  • Cold and Calculating
    This movie is extremely well done. Acting is first rate. The discussion associated with the destruction of the Jewish population early in WWII and who is to be eliminated is shocking. The cold almost anticeptic way of planning the demise of a part of society shows how far from humanity the German view of the world was. Based upon discovered notes, the reality of the discussion can hardly be disputed. Not an easy dvd to find and well worth having....more info
  • The blind leading...the vicious
    I'm not certain what I can add that hasn't already been said -- so eloquently -- about this film. After seeing a film with someone, you might be tempted to ask that person, "Did you enjoy the movie?" This isn't a movie to be enjoyed; rather, it is an experience to be remembered and talked about. Needless to say, the acting is superb, as is the script. For me, I take note of what is said non-verbally...

    When Heydrich tells Kritzinger that the Fuhrer will "continue to deny" any planning or intent to commit genocide no matter how many times Kritzinger broaches the subject with Hitler -- the look on Kritzinger's face is one of a man who has just had his rose-colored glasses ripped torn off and crushed in front of him. There could be no more rationalizations, no more putting on blinders. They weren't there to discuss anything. Kritzinger was there to listen...and obey.

    A scene near the end -- mentioned by other reviewers -- where Heydrich gives Kritzinger his, "Oh, you'll answer now or you'll answer...later" ultimatum, you can see that the latter is totally deflated. He has become useless as a voice of reason. And his previously role as such a "statesman" was perfectly described by Heydrich when he told him, "And your philosophy is what -- hound them, improverish them, exploit them, imprison them, but do not kill them. And you are God's noblest of men. I find that very remarkable." Although Kritzinger murmured a feeble objection, he had to realize that he had been an instrument in the Nazis finally descending to the point of industrial age barbarism, complete with busload-sized ovens.

    Finally, Klopfer's reaction to Eichmann's revelation that their latest version of "evacuating the Jews" would kill 2,500 defenseless men, women, and children per hour was...riveting. You could almost see in that pig's expression his attempt to visualize the slaughter.

    The symbolic act of knocking on wood took on a whole new meaning for me after watching this movie.

    And watch it, you should....more info
  • Conspiracy
    An eclectic group of fifteen men gathered in a former Jewish residence, at distance from the fighting, in order to solve a most troublesome, petulant quandary, the Jewish question. Called upon by Hitler, as the German army became sessile in their drive toward Moscow, the conference concludes in the creation of legal framework designed to remove the Jewish population.Interrupted by smoking, gorging and underhanded, persuasive techniques they determined the fate and solution to the Jewish problem and lead ultimately to the demise of millions of innocents. Over two hours, and with ample supply of spirit and fare, the techniques for excision, eradication, and extermination of the Jews became a reality.
    Although the Germans were meticulous in their obsessive record keeping, the Wannsee conference was documented in short; the only surviving manuscript the basis for this film. However, it is the meticulous cold hearted recording of laws establishing Jew from non-Jew which communicates the depravity of the Nazi mindset, portraying them as a true species of brutality.
    Long sequences of dialogue restricted to a small set comprise the majority of the film. The one break in the dialogue is a wide panning shot across a cold desolate landscape capturing the approach of General Heydrich, who called the meeting under the pretext of deporting the Jews from Europe. While the film does not flash mutilated corpses in hopes of stirring some sense of sympathetic guilt, it instead casts a calculated demeanor on the faces of the characters. Sitting at the center of the table Heydrich announces to the group the number of Jews remaining in German controlled territory. Displaying charts and figures of the Jews still in need of "transport" the dehumanization becomes vividly apparent. Before such accommodations are finalized they calculate with cruel subjectivism the specific traits and relationships which denote a Jew. From this conversation the audience learns that a small majority of Germans and German families are to be disassembled and dealt with in a manner comparable to an animal to the slaughter. Those who object to the "evacuation" of the Jews, namely Kritzinger and Stuckart are humored, for the decision to build camps and gassing facilities is not truly dependent on the proceedings of the confrence but rather the available labor to construct such infrastructure. The gas chambers and sterilization methods have been proven through rigorous trials on the mentally defunct, and they joke turning the bodies pink.

    "Conspiracy" is not only an amazing historical account but also chilling in the unconventional mathematically cold fa?ade employed by the cast. Captivating without an action hero or machine gun fire, this film is truly worth the 90+ minutes. Prepare to explore the realms of human depravity in this thrilling historical thriller.

    ...more info
    Ninety minutes. To many, this amount of time may seem insignificant. Ninety minutes can go by without any thought that something significant. But on a cold day in January of 1942, ninety minutes was all it took to perpetrate one of the greatest crimes against humanity at the Wannsee Conference. Here, a handful of men from the different military and political factions in Nazi Germany made the final plans for the "final solution to the Jewish question."
    "Conspiracy" is a dramatic reenactment of the Wannsee Conference, based on the only surviving copy of the minutes taken at that fateful meeting. The cast and crew do an excellent job of recreating the conference. While there is no blood or violence, this is indeed a horror film, because all of the men talk about the extermination of the Jews with glee in their eyes, and smiles on their faces, as if it is no big deal.
    Ken Branagh is sinister as Reinhard Heydrich, a member of the SS and head of the conference. What makes him truly evil is how he smiles as they discuss how to handle the "storage problem" in Europe. Equally as good is Stanley Tucci as Adolf Eichmann, the mastermind behind the final solution. The rest of the cast does a great job as well.
    "Conspiracy" is a powerful film about how a handful of men planned the Holocaust in less than two hours. This is a film that every man and woman should see, so that they could see how evil men nearly wiped out the entire Jewish population in Europe.
    Movie/DVD Grade: A+...more info
  • The mundane beginning of the holocaust
    This film takes place in one place only and with a limited set of characters. It revolves around the Wannsee Conference, a meeting held at the highest levels of the German government and the Nazi Party. The conference brings together lawyers, technocrats, military (SS), and bureaucrats who, after being skillfully guided by Reichsprotector Reinhard Heydrich, set the stage for the mass extermination of the Jewish population in Europe. The issue is settled much as a trade treaty or a new public relations campaign might be. The scariest part of the story is how mundane all this was. The decision was made and carried out and that was the end of it, just a lot of numbers and trains and changes in official policy to these people.

    Evil does not always wear a cloak and show off fangs... sometimes it just has to do with people with the power to do or not do. ...more info
  • Conspircy - Bitterly Black But Brilliant
    I just want to add, it is a must see. JUST a meeting - a closed door meeting. That's all the movie material. Except incoming and outgoing guests, and the airplane of Heydrich, there is no outdoor shot. All dialogue. Still it is so gripping, thanks to brilliant and tight script, crisp editing and outstanding acting.

    A brilliant record of a dark event in human history, executed within serene white snowed surroundings of Wannsee.

    Heydrich's portrayal was great. However I am yet to read a historical record where Heydrich has been observed to talk diplomatically to people of his lower ranks. His unmistaken (and misplaced too) passion for Classical music has been captured correctly though....more info
  • outstanding performance, fascinating subject, grippingly told; bad title
    This film is simply outstanding. It's an admittedly strange experience to sit through two hours of the Wannsee Conference, the moment when the Nazi leadership decided on the "Final Solution," but if you're interested in the subject matter, the film is extremely well done.

    Watching it was unlike watching _Downfall_, which I thought was totally dull and never even finished watching - we not only know how it ends, but most of us probably don't shouldn't care for those down in the bunker in Berlin - so I never really had any investment, other than hoping the end (of the movie and of the cretins cowering in the bunker) would come sooner rather than later. In contrast, _Conspiracy_ is a fascinating exercise, even when we don't care about the individuals - we still wonder, "why did the Nazis decide on the Final Solution?, how did they justify it?."

    The film makes one wonder about all kinds of issues, from moral to legal to political. Colin Firth, who plays one of the characters, says it best in the featurette - if it was a meeting where everyone agreed to "kill them all," it would somehow be less shocking - evil people do evil things, no problem understanding that, even if we don't agree with it. But, at Wannsee, or at least in this film portrayal, the attendees debate and discuss everything from military needs, the German social order, various assessments of Jews in Germany and other parts of Europe, and, yes, the methods to solve what most in the room considered to be a problem (although for various reasons). So, if I started the film wondering, "Why am I watching a film depicting a decision made to kill Jews?", I finished astounded at the variety of influences that went into the decision at Wannsee, and at the prowess of the filmmakers and actors who pulled off a totally engrossing film in _Conspiracy_.

    Which leads me to my only criticism of the film - its title seems utterly inappropriate and insufficient. Perhaps a "conspiracy" could describe an attempt to kill Hitler, but the only conspiratorial part of the Wannsee conference was to keep it quiet (although why that should be or from whom they wanted to keep the conspiracy wasn't discussed in the film - the characters sure seemed to be all for it, even if they argued over timing, leadership and method). Perhaps a subtitle - even just "the Wannsee Conference" would help. After all, who would want to just watch this movie for its acting and directing - there must be better/easier subjects if you just want a nice movie with a tight plot, great acting, careful directing and tense psychological drama, all of which _Conspiracy_ has.

    What this film does so well is bring history alive; perhaps even more so because we, the audience, are forced to sit with some of the most "evil" characters in history and watch as they work out their plan (or really, as Haydrich - played by Kenneth Branagh - pushes his way around and threatens all of the participants to comply with what seems to be an already-worked-out plan of mass extermination through gas chambers. I found myself hoping someone would speak against the plan (knowing that probably no one would); I think it was the excellent craft that went in to the film that enabled me to continue to look for cracks or a way out, or at least to try to understand or even to challenge the participants at the table - all of which kept me wrapped in the film for the duration.

    In sum, it's a fantastic film for history fans, helping to dramatize what could otherwise too easily, and perhaps incorrectly, be seen as a bunch of evil guys doing evil just because they're evil. This film shows the complexity of viewpoints, actions, beliefs and statements made in specific situations with various participants representing multiple interests, over banal issues like supplies, timelines, and political maneuvering, and thereby makes the appearance of evil thereby even more shocking....more info
  • Great
    What a History Lesson!!! This is a great movie. If your looking for WWII action, this movie doesn't go into that aspect. This movie is about a top secret meeting that really took place, keep that in mind....more info
  • Planning the Most Evil Crime in History
    It was a bueracratic meeting of the sort that many people reading this have been to too many time. There was back biting, sucking up, one upmanship, and a lot of minutia to get through. The difference is that this meeting was to plan the most evil crime in history, the anniliation of the Jews of Europe. Stand out performences by Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci. ...more info
    This film is based on a meeting held by high up Nazis during the 2nd great war. This meeting, held over dinner and drinks, discussed possibilities of a fantastic world, free of the jewish influence on the economy and society. The SS leaders, among others in German officer did their best to figure out the most efficient way to end the hardships of Europe and America by getting straight to the problem, and not worrying about what is politically correct. They tried many options, such as sterilization, exportation, etc. However, they came to realize that the best answer to the jewish question would be evacuation. The rest is history. ...more info
  • Planning of the Holocaust
    This is a spell binding, macabre telling of the planning of the Holocaust by select Nazi's. This is not a pleasant movie but I'm glad someone was willing to tell it....more info
  • The banality of evil
    More terrifying than Alien, in the sense that you will find the banality of evil to be all the more chilling than the most horrific looking space monster. The Wansee conference, which decided the Final Solution, is brilliantly recreated here. No "mwahahaahaha" supervillians - rather, evil men in crisp and pristine suits and uniforms. Excellent movie, with great performances. C'mon, Branagh and Tucci, fine actors both....more info
  • Chillingly Intelligent
    This movie is fascinating and brilliant on one hand and incredibly evil on the other. It is the true story of the secret meeting of Nazi officials where the details of the Final Solution are laid out for them. They are amazed to hear of plans for group showers, xylon B gas, and cremation ovens. These men are not monsters exactly, but they must at least appear to support the plan. Their lives and their families' lives depend on it. Kenneth Branagh leads the meeting with an iron fist in a velvet glove. His sharp eye convinces each attendee that this plan is perfectly rational and in the best interest of the Third Reich. Each man was given a copy of the minutes of the meeting and instructed to destroy it after reading. We only know of it because one officer failed to destroy his copy and it fell into Allied hands after the war.
    Watch this movie carefully and learn from it. I truly believe that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it....more info
    Not much more can be said than has already been posted. It's an excellent film with excellent acting. Bring out this film when you need to be reminded what good acting, writing and directing are about. As for it's 'R' rating, I think a high schooler would be able to watch the film but you'd have to determine if your child is too sensitive for the film. Definitely watch it prior to and with your child....more info


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