Chilling Historical Drama
Starring: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria
Lara, Corinna Harfouch,
Juliane Köhler, and Ulrich
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 148 minutes
Distributor: NewMarket Films
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Executive Producer: Christine Rothe
Producer: Bernd Eichinger
Writer: Bernd Eichinger
Address Comments To:President Bob Berney
597 Fifth Avenue, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 303-1700
Fax: (212) 421-1163
Also, the movie is not preachy as many movies about Hitler and the Holocausts he wrought in the 1930s and 1940s. In a strange way, this may make the viewer wonder whether he or she also could have been duped by such a man with grand schemes of racial and political conquest.
The movie opens in 1942 in Hitler’s infamous Wolf’s Lair in 1942. Hitler interviews a group of giggling, awestruck German girls to be his secretary. Hitler hires pretty Traudl Junge (whose real-life persona was featured in the insightful documentary BLIND SPOT: HITLER’S SECRETARY).
The movie jumps to April, 1945, just 12 days before Hitler and his new bride, Eva Braun, committed suicide. As Russia’s Communist army slowly approaches Hitler’s bunker complex in Berlin, chaos reigns on the city streets. Hitler becomes increasingly angry with his armies and the German people for “losing” the war he started. Life in the bunker becomes increasingly depressing for Traudl and the other sycophants at Hitler’s side. Finally, the reality of the situation makes Hitler even more erratic and depressed. The depression continues as Hitler and his right-hand man, Joseph Goebbels, plan their own suicides.
DOWNFALL is a chilling, but violent, historical drama of the evil mindset of Hitler’s National Socialist Germany. Bruno Ganz is practically perfect as Der Fuehrer. His performance is so real, it’s frightening. The most horrifying moments of the movie, however, are reserved for scenes of Goebbels’ wife tricking her children into drinking a sleeping potion, then manipulating the peacefully sleeping children to bite down on cyanide capsules, one by one. The words “mercy killing” and “euthanasia” do not do justice to such a vile, murderous, cowardly act. Just as chilling is Frau Goebbels’ justification for murdering her children: she doesn’t want them to grow up in a world without National Socialism!
Later, of course, the cowardly Goebbels and the cowardly Hitlers commit suicide rather than face the Russians coming to conquer their beloved Berlin.
DOWNFALL’s meticulous re-creation of the lives of Hitler’s sycophants, including those on the fringes who accompanied him during his last days and the German soldiers, children and adults in the embattled streets of Berlin, is also captivating. The filmmakers successfully combine a claustrophobic style with a realistic dramatic narrative. The characterizations of the people by the actors are also superb.
Hitler was right about the German people being responsible for what happened, but not in the way he meant it. Hitler, of course, was the mastermind of both theirs and his destruction. Their fanatical support of him, however, was the catalyst that brought his murderous, genocidal, tyrannical policies to fruition.
DOWNFALL is a chilling and captivating, but violent, historical drama of the evil mindset of Hitler’s National Socialist Germany, Hitler’s last days and the fall of Berlin. Bruno Ganz is practically perfect as Der Fuehrer. His performance is so real, it’s frightening. The most horrifying moments, however, are reserved for scenes of Joseph Goebbels’ wife tricking her children into drinking a sleeping potion, then manipulating the peacefully sleeping children to bite down on cyanide capsules, one by one. The words “mercy killing” and “Holocaust” don’t do justice to the murder and destruction that these totalitarian war mongers unleashed.