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Conspiracy (2001)(TV) starstarstar
Reviewed 2001-05-22: Based on the actual transcripts (most of which were deliberately destroyed), this HBO-TV dramatization is about the meeting with Adolph Eichmann and 15 Nazi and SS officers at a mansion in Wannsee, just outside of Berlin, in 1942. It was during this meeting that the fate of European Jews was decided. Stanley Tucci (as Eichmann), Kenneth Branagh (as General Reinhard Heydrich) and Colin Firth (as Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart of the Interior Ministry) starred. I don't watch much TV, and I wouldn't even if HBO were free. It's nice to see movies uncut, but 90% of the movies they show on HBO are trash, anyway. Except Conspiracy was pretty good.

Third and fourth from the left are Stanley Tucci (Eichmann)
and Kenneth Branagh (Reinhard Heydrich), respectively

In fact, it was better than good. Conspiracy made evil appear so matter-of-fact, so business-like, that it became clear just how the Nazis could pursue murder as policy. The characters were drawn not as monsters but as men, and their deliberations were no more wild-eyed and impassioned than their consumption of the catered food on the table. This is how evil operates: like a plant owner calculating cost-cutting measures. The story has been done before, in 1984, in a Austrian/German production called The Wannsee Conference (Wannseekonferenz). I haven't seen that one, so I can't say how it compares, but the later production won two Emmy awards: Best Actor for a Miniseries or a Movie went to Kenneth Branagh; Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or a Movie went to Loring Mandel. I'd say, for a story that has no action and is all talk, they deserve them.

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Ronald Bruce Meyer is a freelance reviewer.