Anthropoid” an Inspiring True Story Of Czech Resistance to Nazis
By Skip Sheffield
The French resistance to the occupying German Nazis of World War II is better-known, but the movie “Anthropoid” reveals an equally brave and determined Czech resistance to its occupation by Germany.
“Operation Anthropoid” was the code name for an audacious plot by exiled Czech loyalists in London to infiltrate their Nazi-occupied homeland and assassinate Hitler’s third in command and main architect of the “Final Solution,” SS officer Reinhard Heydrich, who ruled Czechoslovakia with an iron fist and no mercy.
The story, based on actual news accounts, was written by director Sean Ellis, who upped the ante with a bit of romance. Josef Gabcik (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubis (Jamie Dornan) parachute into Czechoslovakia at dawn in December, 1941. We see Josef hurriedly burying his parachute and trying to cover his tracks in the forest. He soon is confronted by a large, snarling dog and a man.
“You didn’t hide your parachute very well,” he says. “Follow me.”
The man is part of the Czech resistance, and he provides a temporary safe house for Josef and Jan. Josef senses something wrong.
“How much did the Germans pay you?” Josef demands. He then shoots the man and Josef and Jan steal the farmer’s truck and head for Prague.
In Prague they meet more clandestine Czech resistance fighters. They are provided another safe house with a woman, her young son and a daughter named Marie (Charlotte Le Bon). Marie’s best friend is a fiery red-headed resistance fighter named Lenka (Anna Geislerna). This is where the romance comes in. Jan falls head over heels for Marie. Josef develops a strong attraction to Lenka.
The tension builds as a deadline arrives for their target. Reinhard Heydrich is leaving for Berlin, so the men and their accomplices have only one shot to carry out their mission.
Rather than give out any more plot spoilers, let’s just say the mission was successful, but it carried a terrible price.
I was reminded of the movie “The Alamo” as Josef, Jan and their comrades are holed up in a church, surrounded by Germans. The odds were much less favorable for these Czech patriots.
Anthropoid is a tense, stirring tale of bravery, ingenuity and self-sacrifice. The best part of it is it is a true story. The Czech Republic survived the Nazis, threw off the yoke of the Soviet Union, and is a free country today.