Germany likely to allow Cruise film at key site

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BERLIN, Sep 14 (Reuters) The makers of a movie starring US actor Tom Cruise about a failed plot to kill Adolf Hitler will most likely be allowed to use a German memorial site after all, a spokesman for the Finance Ministry said today.

The ministry had said it would not allow the filmmakers to use the site because its dignity had to be protected.

But a letter from the co-producer describing a sequence from the beginning of the movie may have prompted a change of heart.

''It draws a line from today's, democratic Germany to the memorial site where the (conspirators) were shot,'' the spokesman said. ''I believe it shows that barbarism did not prevail but that at the end of the day a democratic Germany rose again.'' ''Both sides are willing to reach an accord, let's just wait a little while longer, I think it will come to a good end.'' The site in question is the ''Bendlerblock'' memorial inside the Defence Ministry complex in Berlin. This is where Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, played by Cruise, and his co-conspirators hatched the plot and where he and his closest comrades were executed when it failed.

Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung has said the filmmakers cannot shoot at any military sites as long as Cruise plays the lead role, and Stauffenberg's eldest son has said he does not want Cruise to portray his father.

Cruise, also one of the film's producers, is a member of the Church of Scientology which the German government does not recognise as a church. Berlin says it masquerades as a religion to make money, a charge Scientology leaders reject.

The Finance Ministry has said filming is generally banned at the ''Bendlerblock'' -- the site of the conspirators' execution and now a national shrine within the Defence Ministry complex -- because of a bad experience with a German filmmaker.

The ministry oversees the properties and has the final word on matters such as filming.

The film, slated for a 2008 release and to be directed by Bryan Singer and co-starring Kenneth Branagh, is called ''Valkyrie'' after Operation Valkyrie, the plot's codename.

Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators were shot after failing to kill Hitler with a briefcase bomb on July 20, 1944.

REUTERS SBC AS2005

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