Anthropoid (film)

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A picture in black and red, the bust of a man in military uniform, the black edges dripping. Two small figures stand underneath.
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySean Ellis
Written bySean Ellis
Anthony Frewin
Produced bySean Ellis
Mickey Liddell
Pete Shilaimon
CinematographySean Ellis
Edited byRichard Mettler
Music byGuy Farley
Robin Foster
LD Entertainment
Lucky Man Films
Silver A[1]
Distributed byFalcon (Czech Republic)[2]
Icon Film Distribution (United Kingdom)[2]
Release dates
  • 1 July 2016 (2016-07-01) (Karlovy Vary)
  • 9 September 2016 (2016-09-09) (United Kingdom)
Running time
120 minutes[3]
CountriesCzech Republic
United Kingdom
Budget$9 million[4]
Box office$5.3 million[1]

Anthropoid is a 2016 war film directed by Sean Ellis and starring Cillian Murphy, Jamie Dornan, Charlotte Le Bon, Anna Geislerová, Harry Lloyd, and Toby Jones. It was written by Ellis and Anthony Frewin. It tells the story of Operation Anthropoid, the World War II assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by exiled Czechoslovak soldiers Jozef Gabčík and Jan Kubiš on 27 May 1942.[5][6] It was released on 12 August 2016 in the United States and 9 September 2016 in the United Kingdom.


In December 1941, German occupation in Europe has neared its height. Two agents from the Czechoslovak exile government, a Slovak soldier, Jozef Gabčík and a Czech, Jan Kubiš are parachuted into their occupied country. Jozef is injured when he crashes through a tree upon landing, but both men set out to find their contact in the resistance movement. They are discovered shortly afterwards by fake resistance fighters who turn out to be traitors; one is shot by Jozef but the other man escapes. Stealing their truck, the agents head for Prague.

When they seek out their contact, they are directed to Dr. Eduard, a veterinary surgeon who stitches Jozef's foot, and arranges for them to meet other resistance members, led by "Uncle" Jan Zelenka-Hajský. They are located in a concealed basement of the Saints Cyril and Methodius Cathedral in Prague. Gabčík and Kubiš reveal that they are to carry out "Operation Anthropoid," the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the main architect of the Final Solution, and the Reichsprotektor of German–occupied Czechoslovakia.

With limited sources of intelligence and equipment, Jozef and Jan must find a way to assassinate Heydrich, an operation which they hope will change the face of Europe. With the help of two young women, Marie Kovárníková and Lenka Fafková along with other plotters, the agents plan to ambush Heydrich as he arrives at his headquarters by car. When the agents learn that Heydrich is about to be transferred to France, the plan goes into effect straightaway with the duo bolstered by the addition of other agents who have been parachuted into Czechoslovakia and the remaining resistance fighters in Prague.

On 27 May 1942 the assassination attempt is carried out; it nearly fails when Jozef's Sten submachine gun jams, but Heydrich is severely wounded by Jan's grenade, which shatters his limousine. Immediately afterwards, both agents go on the run. In response, SS security forces round up thousands of Czech citizens and carry out reprisals, during which Lenka is killed trying to escape Nazi arrest. Heydrich soon dies from his injuries in the hospital.

Reprisals continue with the village of Lidice destroyed, all the males over the age of 16 being shot, and the women and children sent to concentration camps. The family with whom Jozef and Jan stayed is punished, their house being attacked by numerous Gestapo officers. The mother commits suicide by taking a cyanide pill. The son is brutally tortured and reveals Jozef and Jan's hiding place. Hundreds of troops storm the cathedral where all the agents, including Jozef and Jan, are killed in a fierce six hour battle, along with many German soldiers. In 1947, Resistance fighter Karel Čurda was convicted and executed for turning in his fellow resistance agents for the offered reward.

Ultimately, a total of 5,000 Czechs and Slovaks were killed in the aftermath of the "Heydrich Terror". The assassination of Heydrich was the only successful Allied-organised assault on a top-ranking Nazi official in the Second World War.



In March 2015, Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy were cast in Anthropoid, with Sean Ellis directing a screenplay written by Ellis and Anthony Frewin.[7] In May 2015, LD Entertainment boarded the film, announcing the casting of Charlotte Le Bon.[8]

The film was shot entirely in Prague during the summer of 2015, and where possible, at the actual locations of the events they depict. Director Sean Ellis stated in interview that scenes in the Orthodox Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius were filmed on an exact replica of the church on a studio backlot, so as to make the location recognisable to Czech viewers. Gestapo and Czech contemporary reports allowed Ellis to recreate the film's final act (the assassination and church siege) with extreme accuracy, and intense planning was necessary to allow for the assassination itself to play in real time, with each resistance member's movements researched, planned and tracked in order to reflect actual events.

The principal photography for Anthropoid includes backdrops such as Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge in Prague, the locations where Operation Anthropoid took place. At the premiere screening and later advance screenings, audience members noted that the authentic street scenes were featured in the film.[9]


In July 2015, the first image of Dornan and Murphy was released.[10] In May 2016, Bleecker Street acquired U.S distribution rights to the film.[11] In June 2016, the first trailer was released.[12]

Anthropoid had its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on 1 July 2016 as the opening night film.[13] It was released in the United States on 12 August 2016.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, Anthropoid has an approval rating of 67% based on 108 reviews, with an average rating of 6.50/10.[15] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 59 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[16] The film has garnered praise for its commitment to realism and true events.[17]

In his review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw wrote, "An intelligent, tough, and gripping movie."[17]Variety's chief film critic Peter Debruge felt that "Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy spearhead a mission to assassinate a top-ranking Nazi officer in a thriller that doesn't actually get thrilling until after the deed is done."[18] The Washington Post's Christopher Kompanek gave the film four out of four stars, writing: "Anthropoid never feels formulaic—a surprise in a summer release. (With luck, Academy Award voters won't forget this one.)"[19]


At the Czech Lion Awards, Anthropoid received 12 nominations, out of 14 categories in which it was eligible (all except best actress and best supporting actress).[20] The film lost all 12 nominations to A Prominent Patient.[21] Anthropoid won the non-statutory Czech Lion in the "Film Fans Award" category.[21][22]

See also[edit]

Other films on this subject:



  1. ^ a b c "Anthropoid (2016)". The Numbers. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b Anthropoid at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ "Anthropoid (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  4. ^ Šálek, Václav (1 July 2015). "Anthropoid i Mušketýři. Česko chrastí miliony na zahraniční filmaře". Týden (in Czech). Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  5. ^ Burgess 1983, p. 160.
  6. ^ Ramen 2001, p. 8.
  7. ^ Barraclough, Leo (2 March 2015). "Jamie Dornan to lead World War II thriller 'Anthropoid'". Variety.
  8. ^ Jafaar, Ali (14 May 2015). "LD Entertainment boards Jamie Dornan-Cillian Murphy starrer 'Anthropoid' – Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  9. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (10 August 2016). "Anthropoid review: a humdrum account of an extraordinary plot". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  10. ^ Kelly, Aoife (30 July 2015). "First image of Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan in WWII thriller Anthropoid released". Irish Independent. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  11. ^ Jafaar, Ali (12 May 2016). "Bleecker Street acquires U.S. rights to World War II thriller 'Anthropoid' – Cannes". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  12. ^ Bleecker Street (17 June 2016). ANTHROPOID | Official HD Trailer. YouTube. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  13. ^ Meza, Ed (26 May 2016). "Sean Ellis' 'Anthropoid' opens Karlovy Vary". Variety.
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (27 May 2016). "World War II Cillian Murphy pic 'Anthropoid' from Bleecker Street plots August date". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  15. ^ "Anthropoid (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 14 February 2023.
  16. ^ "Anthropoid reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  17. ^ a b Bradshaw, Peter (8 September 2016). "Anthropoid review – gruelling, gripping account of Nazi assassins". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  18. ^ Debruge, Peter (1 July 2016). "Karlovy Vary Film Review: 'Anthropoid'". Variety.
  19. ^ Kompanek, Christopher (11 August 2016). "Anthropoid': A World War II thriller that stands out from the pack". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  20. ^ Mitchell, Robert (19 January 2017). "English-Language 'Anthropoid,' 'A Prominent Patient' Dominate Czech Lion Nominations". Variety.
  21. ^ a b Jan Velinger (5 March 2017). "Film Masaryk Wins Big at the 24th Czech Lion Awards". Radio Prague. Retrieved 24 January 2023.
  22. ^ "24th Czech Lion Award Winners" (PDF) (Press release). Česká filmová a televizní akademie. 4 March 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2023.


  • Burgess, Alan. Seven Men at Daybreak. New York: Bantam Books, 1983. ISBN 978-0-5532-3508-1.
  • Ramen, Fred. Reinhard Heydrich: Hangman of the Third Reich. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8239-3379-2.

External links[edit]