FF102 - Antropoid

Intro by Ben Harrison

Operation Anthropoid. An-Thro-Poid. Just the name sounds dumb! "man-like", I guess? Why that? Who knows what went through the minds of the military planners back in London coming up with the codename for this operation. To say nothing of the film-executive that chose to obscure this perfectly good war film behind a name that sounds like a fake Marvel action figure that you would find in the bargain bin at the Dollar Store. But it is a movie about a real operation and that is the real name. Even my wife suggested the title sounded like one of those trashy SciFi novels I read and we could spend a whole episode debating the wisdom of these decisions, but who wants that?

This film is another entry in a sub-genre of WWII films that we have begun to define on Friendly Fire that is around the resistance movements in various countries that the Nazis occupied. This can be a bit of a sticky wicket because many of these countries would like history to remember their resistance-fighters and downplay the local collaborators. This was certainly an issue with Black Book, which - well - not an entirely uncomplicated portrayal of the Netherlands during the war, felt like it verged into propaganda and representing the resistance as having been a bigger factor than it actually was.

On the other hand, Army of Shadows focused on the French Resistance and excoriated the portions of French society that embraced the Nazis while showing how isolated and small the resistance really was. Czechoslovakia had an interesting relationship to this because while some very effective resistance to the occupying Nazis was carried out, their stories have not been made well-known in the West. Surely a film led by two rising stars from Hollywood could cast a little more light on the amazing story of the assassination of Obergruppenf├╝hrer Reinhard Heydrich.

Unfortunately, and possibly owing to the name of this film sounding like a hemorrhoid cream you would buy at a homeopathic pharmacy, the movie was a giant flop. Even the extremely hunky Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy couldn't save it. This is especially painful because this is a pretty kickass movie about two soldiers parachuting behind the Nazi lines, contacting the resistance in Prague, and then carrying out this long-shot mission that led to a nationwide crackdown that was brutal even by the Nazis' standards.

So what I am saying is: I am glad I got to see it and I am glad you are here to listen to this episode because there is some interesting stuff here! You kill Heydrich, and Hitler will tear Prague apart. Today on Friendly Fire: Anthropoid.

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