"Chilling Historical Drama"
What You Need To Know:
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.
(BB, Ab, L, VVV, S, NN, AA, DD, MM) Implied moral worldview depicting the last days of Adolf Hitler and the fall of Berlin in 1945 at the end of World War II; Hitler and his henchmen briefly discuss anti-Semitic ideas; two light obscenities and one light profanity; very strong violence includes doctors sawing off and discarding limbs, bloody wounds, war violence, battles on the streets, young boys enlist to fight during war, implied and depicted suicides, and people force German Shepherd dog and sleeping children to bite down on cyanide capsules; brief sexual references include man lies in bed with woman and half-naked women ride on men’s shoulders during implied drunken orgy; briefly depicted sexual nudity includes upper female nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking and mother tricks her young children into drinking sleeping potion so she can murder theme, because she doesn’t want them to grow up in a world without National Socialism; and, movie depicts National Socialist ideologues preaching fascism, totalitarianism, anti-Semitism, and extreme loyalty.
DOWNFALL is a controversial German movie about the last days of Adolf Hitler and the beleaguered sycophants surrounding him at the time. Some claim it humanizes the ruthless dictator too much. Although the true horror of his evil personality and the evil of those around him does not always show as strongly as it perhaps should, the movie is a captivating portrayal that raises provocative, worthwhile moral, historical and philosophical questions.
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.