The Man with the Iron Heart, based on the novel by Laurent Binet
The Man with the Iron Heart is a poignant, gripping feature about valor, persistence, self-sacrifice, bravery, perspective, resilience, heroism and role models, together with the ultimate villains, antiheroes like Reinhard Heydrich, who, although little known, is the monster who has concocted the Final Solution.
Like the other Beelzebuth, the leader of the pack of devils actually- Hitler- Reinhard had been a failure, court martialed for unethical behavior, conduct unbecoming towards s girl and dishonorably discharged, he gets a second chance from Lina, who is an adept of National Socialism and an admirer of Hitler.
The two meet at a big party, where “The Man with the Iron Heart” fascinates the blonde beauty portrayed with style and some complexity by Rosamund Pike, who takes the handsome, but rather weak man, at least at that stage, under her wing and it could be argued that she is the one responsible for the ascension of this heinous character.
The woman the antihero had been seeing complains and the misbehaviors comes to the attention of the superior officers, who ask him to tell the truth at the trial and the accused speaks with disgust about his former partner that no one from the court would marry and therefore he states that they surely understand him.
Only they do not and the weakness, anger, lack of control, frustration, lack of perspective, modesty, grit, self-regulation, bravery, manhood, kindness, humanity of this loathsome character is evident, as he starts smashing mirror, furniture and everything in sight, stopping only when Lina enters the room, vehemently tells him to be a man and never mention this incident, ever again.
Anticipating, later on, as this weakling becomes one of the leaders of the Nazi regime, the tables are turned and “poor” Lina, after creating this Lucifer, has to ask him with fear to be nicer to her, more present and caring, only to be told that “just another word from her and she will no longer be his wife”- indeed, knowing the massacres organized by this beast, the message might well be that he would shoot his wife if she does not obey him…absolutely.
Reinhard Heydrich is called by the fuhrer “The Man with the Iron Heart” –evidently, no connection with the Iron Man- and sends this fascist to Prague, where he is anointed Reich – protector, Head of the SS, the Gestapo and a ruthless, beastly killer who is so blood thirsty that he orders the execution of multitudes, as retaliation, trying to eliminate the resistance and out of pure sick pleasure.
The Milgram experiment answers to some extent the question of how was it possible for the Germans and others in occupied countries or the ones allied to The Third Reich to follow the demented leaders, when so many mass killings have been committed and it is Respect for Authority, one of the Principles of Influence, as detailed in the quintessential Psychology classic – Influence by Robert Cialdini.
When asked to apply an electric current, of increasing and dangerous intensity, participants in research obey the researcher, or some posing as an Authority Figure, even when the man or woman in the chair cries from pain, and a majority go beyond the critical, life threatening level.
The Czech Resistance based in London plan what some say was the most daring operation in World War II, to kill this leading figure of the Nazi regime, the villainous, abhorrent “Protector” even if it is as dangerous as one can imagine, given the controls, checks, regular raids of the SS and Gestapo.
Some of those called to assist have qualms, knowing full well that even if the operation succeeds- and it is such a huge risk- there would be little reason to cheer, considering the mass reprisals, scores, hundreds or maybe thousands of innocents that will be killed trying to get to the partisans, whoever is fighting the occupation or assists the resistance.
The fascists try hard to catch The Three Kings, leaders of the groups that oppose and confront the enemy occupation forces, until they find and kill them, making immense efforts to find the paratroopers that they know have been parachuted in the country and they come close to get them.
In the Operation Anthropoid, the superheroes, Ubermenschen –if it appropriate to use a German term for outstanding men, demigods- are Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis, two young men willing to commit the ultimate sacrifice for their country, freedom, democracy, the elimination of the ultimate Villain, a devilish propagandist, crucial for the Nazi War machine and its future holocaust program.
Indeed, this odious, abominable monster had been working with “dedication” to try and offer a “solution” to rid the Arian race of Jewish, gypsy and other <<inferior>> elements, eliminating them with efficiency and calculating that at this rate, it would not do, for he has the figures with various populations in France, Turkey, Poland and every other territory where the Nazis can deport and then kill the Jews or have their local collaborators do this inhuman, incredible operation for them.
Without introducing any spoiler alerts- although this is part of the history of World War II and we know how it ended- it must be emphasized that the fate of the beast is not so relevant, even if he was a symbol, a figure head for that repugnant regime, and the motion picture is more compelling and gripping in its treatment of these Supermen, who attack this Lucifer in broad daylight.
The machine gun is jammed, but the second assailant may have a better chance, the fact is that repression follows, men and women are killed, some fighters for the resistance have poison with them and take it, knowing that the execrable SS would torture and not let them die until they have no life left in their body or they gave information on their comrades.
Maybe one of the most terrifying moments is the scene where a young boy, perhaps no older than six, has to witness the raid of the fascists and his mother’s suicide, after which he is forced to look at the pain inflicted on his father and told that it is up to him to save his parent and all he has to do is tell the torturers where the partisan, the men who had attacked the Reich Protector are hiding…
The Man with the Iron Heart is a good motion picture that has nevertheless passed rather unnoticed, alas.