The "central communications center" (teleprinter room), which appears several times in this movie, is a highly accurate depiction. Nearly thirty historically correct original teleprinter machines of various types were used. Some were provided by collector and technical consultant Henning Treumann, and some borrowed from other sources. All of the machines were fully operational, and, in the movie, are all printing authentic archival messages from the Nazi era, fed from off-screen teletype machines and notebook computers.
Much of the movie takes place in the offices of Bendlerblock which served as the offices for the military operations of the Third Reich's military command. The courtyard of Bendlerblock is where Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and the other conspirators were executed. Some of the filming of the movie took place at the actual building. This building is now the Memorial to the German Resistance (German: Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand). The statement in the final slide of the movie is from a plaque near the site of execution at the Memorial.
David Bamber (Adolf Hitler) is the only non-German cast member who speaks with a German accent. The filmmakers felt that audiences would be distracted by Adolf Hitler speaking in Bamber's natural English accent. The resulting difference in accent, however, is not too unrealistic, as Hitler was a native of Austria. German is the main language spoken in Germany and Austria, but Hitler's Austrian accent made him stand out while he was amongst his (mostly) German subordinates.
This movie hinges on the common belief that Adolf Hitler owed his survival to the last-minute change in venue from an underground bunker to the above-ground conference room. However, MythBusters (2003) tested this myth and confirmed Hitler would've survived in either case.
Eleven extras playing Wehrmacht soldiers were injured on the set when they fell out of a moving truck. One suffered a serious back injury, the rest had bruises, cuts, and head injuries. An insurance company investigation concluded that an extra closed the side panel improperly, causing it to open while the truck was in motion.
The opening prologue is a quotation of a Nazi mandatory loyalty service oath for soldiers of the German Armed Forces. It states: "I swear by God this sacred oath: That I shall render unconditional obedience to Adolf Hitler, Father of the German Reich and people, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and that I shall at all times be ready, as a brave soldier, to give my life for this oath..."
(At around forty-two minutes) When Colonel Mertz von Quirnheim (Christian Berkel) is having the initial conversation with the other conspirators about the application of explosives and said, "The trick is not to be around when they go off", is the same line David Niven said to Gregory Peck's character in The Guns of Navarone (1961).
This movie was originally scheduled for release on August 8, 2008, then moved up to June 27, 2008. The producer couldn't find a suitable location for the battle sequence in which Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg loses his eye and hand, halting production and moving release to October 3, 2008. Filming resumed in June 2008, and release was moved to February 13, 2009. After a successful test screening, release was finally moved to December 25, 2008.
Some sequences in this movie were shot at Studio Babelsberg, in Potsdam, Germany. Babelsberg was in existence during the time frame depicted in this movie, and was used for the filming of movies approved by the Nazis' Reich Minister of Propaganda, Josef Goebbels, who appeared as a character in this movie.
Sir Kenneth Branagh was originally going to play the villain in Mission: Impossible III (2006) when David Fincher was attached to direct. When Fincher bailed, Branagh considered taking over as director, but he decided to star opposite Tom Cruise in this movie instead.
The Night of the Generals (1967), starring Peter O' Toole, Omar Sharif, and an ensemble cast, had a small subplot of the "Operation Valkyrie" incident. At the end of said subplot, where it is confirmed that Adolf Hitler survived the blast, General Tanz (Peter O' Toole) proceeds to arrest all of the traitors of the assassination plot.
The song played over parts of the end credits, "They'll Remember You", used lyrics from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's poem "Wanderers Nachtlied" ("Wanderer's Night Song"): "Ueber allen Gipfeln / Ist Ruh, / In allen Wipfeln / Spuerest du / Kaum einen Hauch. - Die Voegelein schweigen im Walde. / Warte nur, balde / Ruhest du auch." This translates into English as, "Over all the summits / it is calm. / In all the treetops / you can feel / hardly a breeze - The birds remain silent in the woods. / Just wait, soon / You'll rest as well."
Kevin McNally and Sir Kenneth Branagh appear together in Conspiracy (2001), another movie about Naziism and World War II. In that movie, all played true Nazis involved in following Adolf Hitler's order regarding the "Final Solution". In this one, they play Germans disgusted by the regime and trying to put an end to it.
East Germany born Thomas Kretschmann, who portrayed Major Otto Ernst Remer, stated he feels an aversion to taking Nazi roles in film. As of 2018, he appeared fourteen times as a Nazi including a starring role as one of the leaders and architects of the Jewish Final Solution Adolf Eichmann.
He also portrayed Nazi Herman Fegelein in the film "Downfall". Scores of videos were made with completely new subtitles inserted for various, mostly comedic, topics. Fegelein is the object of Hitler's anger and rants.
The plot of this film was also a subplot in the miniseries War and Remembrance (1988), and there are two other connections between the two projects. Cruise's role was played in that film by Sky du Mont, with whom he appeared in Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Another role in that film was played by Sir Robert Stephens, who was the father of this film's cast member Chris Larkin.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Germany has strict laws against displaying the swastika, though artistic displays are specifically exempt. Filmmakers usually use incorrect swastikas to avoid causing public outrage. The producer wanted swastikas for authenticity, so the crew posted warnings around the filming locations. Still, a local resident filed an official complaint with the city, who pressed charges against the owners of some filming sites.
After the conspirators were executed by order of General Fromm, the subtitle correctly states that Fromm was executed on March 12, 1945. However, because at trial he was not directly connected to the conspiracy, he was instead convicted of "cowardice before the enemy". For this conviction, he was executed by military firing squad. Interestingly, at his death, Fromm was technically a civilian, having been discharged from the Army on September 14, 1944.
Prior to the production of Valkyrie, the German Defence Ministry said that filming would not be allowed at the country's military sites, because Tom Cruise is a member of Scientology, which is viewed as a dangerous cult by the German authorities.