Conspiracy (2001 film)

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Written byLoring Mandel
Directed byFrank Pierson
StarringKenneth Branagh
Stanley Tucci
Colin Firth
Ian McNeice
Kevin McNally
David Threlfall
ComposerDennis McCarthy
Country of originUnited Kingdom
United States
Original languagesEnglish
ProducersNick Gillott
Frank Pierson
CinematographyStephen Goldblatt
EditorPeter Zinner
Running time96 minutes
Production companiesBBC
HBO Films
Original release
Release19 May 2001 (2001-05-19)

Conspiracy is a 2001 made-for-television drama film that dramatises the 1942 Wannsee Conference. Using the authentic script taken from the only surviving transcript recorded during the meeting, the film delves into the psychology of Nazi officials involved in the "Final Solution of the Jewish question" during World War II.

The film was written by Loring Mandel and directed by Frank Pierson. Its ensemble cast includes Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, Colin Firth and David Threlfall. Branagh won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor, and Tucci was awarded a Golden Globe Award for his supporting role.


On 20 January 1942, Nazi officials hold a conference at a villa in Wannsee, a wealthy district on the outskirts of Berlin, to determine the method by which they will make Germany's territory free of Jews, including the occupied countries of Poland, Reichskommissariat Ostland, Czechoslovakia and France.

Chairing the meeting is Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Security Main Office, who states he has been given a mandate in the form of a directive from Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring to achieve a "complete solution of the Jewish question." Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger responds that the meeting is pointless and that the Jewish question has already been settled. Heydrich announces that the government's policy will change from emigration to "evacuation", and Fascist Italy will be forced to cooperate. There is consternation over the use of euphemisms from several of the participants, and Heydrich insinuates a policy of genocide that will become more explicit as the meeting progresses.

The men discuss sterilisation and exemptions for mixed-race Jews who have one or more non-Jewish grandparents. Heydrich's willingness to entertain various competing ideas suggests the ultimate fate of the Jews has not been decided. As the discussion continues, however, it becomes evident to the participants that the purpose of the meeting is not to formulate policy but to receive direction from the SS. Heydrich calls a break in the proceedings, and after praising Stuckart aloud takes him aside to warn him about the consequences of his stubbornness. On reconvening, Heydrich reveals in frank detail the policy that had already been decided before the meeting convened: the wholesale extermination of Europe's Jewish population using gas chambers.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann then reveals that the SS has been building extermination camps at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka, and making preparations for the "Final Solution" under the noses of Germany's civilian bureaucrats. Eichmann describes the method that will be used: gassing of Jews in gas chambers built at locations such as Auschwitz.

Throughout the meeting and over refreshments attendees raise other side issues, reflecting the interests of their respective work areas, including concerns that cholera and typhus could break out from the overpopulated ghettos in Poland. A break is called and this time it is Kritzinger's turn to be taken aside and intimidated by Heydrich. Kritzinger realizes that any hopes he had of assuring liveable conditions for the Jewish population are unrealistic. In return, he tells Heydrich a cautionary tale about a man consumed by hatred of his father, so much so that his life loses its meaning once his father dies. Heydrich later interprets this as a warning that a similar fate awaits them.

Heydrich then recalls and concludes the meeting. He also asks for explicit assent and support from each official, one by one. After giving careful instructions on the secrecy of the minutes and notes of the meeting, they adjourn and begin to depart.

As the officials depart, a brief account of the fate of each one is given. Most of the members either died during the war or were arrested immediately after; two, Josef Bühler and Karl Eberhard Schongarth, are convicted by Allied military tribunals and executed, and the others acquitted to live a peaceful life in postwar West Germany. Heydrich would be assassinated by Czechoslovak partisans for his brutal rule in Bohemia and Moravia within six months, while Eichmann would flee to Buenos Aires but be captured, tried and sentenced to death by Israel in the 1960s. The film ends with the house tidied up and all records of the meeting destroyed as if it had never happened. The final card before the credits reveals that Luther's copy of the Wannsee minutes, recovered by the US Army in the archives of the German Foreign Office in 1947, was the only record of the conference to survive.


Additional cast members include:


Critical reception[edit]

Conspiracy has a 100% approval rating from 7 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.[1]

James Rampton in The Independent praised the film:

"Showing as part of the BBC's commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day, Frank Pierson's film underscores only too well the old maxim that evil prospers when good men do nothing."

— James Rampton[2]

An impressed Austin Film Society had a lengthy review of the film and details about its making.[3]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Artios Awards Best Casting for Movie of the Week Linda Lowy Nominated [4]
Online Film & Television Association Awards Best Motion Picture Made for Television Nominated [5]
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Stanley Tucci Nominated
Best Editing in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nominated
Best New Titles Sequence in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nominated
Peabody Awards HBO Films produced in association with the BBC Won [6]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Made for Television Movie Frank Doelger, Frank Pierson,
David M. Thompson, Peter Zinner,
and Nick Gillott
Nominated [7]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Kenneth Branagh Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Colin Firth Nominated
Stanley Tucci Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries or a Movie Frank Pierson Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or a Movie Loring Mandel Won
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or a Movie Stephen Goldblatt Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Peter Zinner Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie Peter Glossop, John Hayward,
Richard Pryke, and Kevin Tayler
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Christopher Ackland, Gillian Dodders, Alan Paley,
Felicity Cottrell, and Jason Swanscott
American Film Institute Awards TV Movie or Mini-Series or the Year Nominated [8]
Actor of the Year – Male – TV Movie or Mini-Series Kenneth Branagh Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Movies for Television or Miniseries Frank Pierson Won [9]
Golden Globe Awards Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Nominated [10]
Best Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Kenneth Branagh Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television Stanley Tucci Won
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture Made for Television Nominated [11]
Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television Colin Firth Nominated
Stanley Tucci Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Long Form – Original Loring Mandel Won [12]
British Academy Television Awards Best Single Drama Won [13]
Best Actor Kenneth Branagh Nominated

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Conspiracy". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on 23 October 2005. Retrieved 15 July 2021.
  2. ^ Rampton, James (19 January 2002). "Conspiracy review". The Independent. London: Independent Print Ltd.
  3. ^ Raymond, Christian. "Conspiracy". Austin Film Society. Austin, Texas. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  4. ^ "2001 Artios Awards". 4 October 2001. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  5. ^ "5th Annual Television Awards (2000-01)". Online Film & Television Association. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  6. ^ "Conspiracy". Peabody Awards. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  7. ^ "Conspiracy". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 13 July 2021.
  8. ^ "AFI Awards 2001". Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  9. ^ "54th DGA Awards". Directors Guild of America Awards. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  10. ^ "Conspiracy – Golden Globes". Golden Globe Awards. Retrieved 10 July 2023.
  11. ^ "International Press Academy website – 2002 6th Annual SATELLITE Awards". Archived from the original on 1 February 2008.
  12. ^ "WGA Awards 2002". Writers Guild of America Awards. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  13. ^ "BAFTA Awards: Television in 2003". BAFTA. 2003. Retrieved 10 July 2023.

External links[edit]