A solid, well-crafted and respectful chronicle of a terrible chapter in the war against Hitler
Anthropoid is based on the extraordinary true story of the World War II operation to assassinate SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich was the Reich’s third in command after Hitler and Himmler, and the main architect behind the Final Solution and the leader of the occupying Nazi forces in Czechoslovakia. Nicknamed “The Butcher of Prague,” his reign of terror and brutal crackdown prompted Allied authorities in London to hatch a top-secret mission, codenamed Operation Anthropoid, which would change history. The film follows two soldiers from the Czech army-in-exile, Josef Gabčík (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubiš (Jamie Dornan), who are parachuted into their occupied homeland in December 1941. With limited intelligence and little equipment in a city locked down under Nazi occupation, they must find a way to assassinate Heydrich, the man many saw as Adolf Hitler’s natural successor. They make contact with members of the beleaguered Czech resistance, headed by Ladislav Vanek (Marcin Dorocinski) and Uncle Hajsky (Toby Jones). Initially the resistance were horrified by the scale of the mission, devised by a government-inexile out of touch with the reality on the ground. The cost of failure and success would be the same after any attempt on Heydrich’s life – extensive reprisals against the Czech people, and the almost certain capture, torture and execution of the assassins. But united in their patriotism, they agree to help and the men set about planning the near-impossible mission. For the next five months, Jan and Josef find shelter in the home of another resistance member, Marie Moravec (Alena Mihulová) and her son, At’a (Bill Milner), who acts as a messenger for the paratroopers. They become involved with two women who also risk their lives to help the resistance, Marie (Charlotte Le Bon) and Lenka (Ana Geislerová). 6 With Ladislav and Uncle Hajsky, Jan and Josef secretly convene with Czech paratroopers dropped into Prague on other missions, Adolf Opálka (Harry Lloyd), Karel Čurda (Jiří Šimek) and Josef Valčík (Václav Neužil), in order to plan the assassination. While waiting for the final green light from London, the group receives news that Heydrich has been called to Berlin, apparently to accept a new position away from Prague.