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Downfall
Year:
2004
Country:
Italy, Germany, Austria
Genre:
Drama, Biography, History, War
IMDB rating:
8.3
Director:
Oliver Hirschbiegel
Bruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler
Alexandra Maria Lara as Traudl Junge
Corinna Harfouch as Magda Goebbels
Ulrich Matthes as Joseph Goebbels
Juliane Köhler as Eva Braun
Heino Ferch as Albert Speer
Christian Berkel as Prof. Dr. Ernst-Günter Schenck
Matthias Habich as Prof. Dr. Werner Haase
Thomas Kretschmann as SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein
Michael Mendl as General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling
André Hennicke as SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke
Ulrich Noethen as Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler
Birgit Minichmayr as Gerda Christian
Rolf Kanies as General der Infanterie Hans Krebs
Storyline: Traudl Junge, the final secretary for Adolf Hitler, tells of the Nazi dictator's final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII.
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
720p 1280x720 px 9445 Mb h264 N/A mkv Download
HQ DVD-rip 576x320 px 1394 Mb mpeg4 1082 Kbps avi Download
Reviews
A profound and powerful film with a fantastic central performance
A film that takes you into the heart of darkness that was Adolf Hitler. An absorbing central performance by Bruno Ganz that allowed me to imagine what it must have been like in that bunker as the second world war drew to a close. I found the film completely believable and one of those rare things in cinema, a film that stays with you and which returns to you weeks, even months after you see it. A disturbing and unsettling film in that the intimate portrayal of Hitler as a fallible human being invites us to empathise with him, despite all that we know about his political fanaticism and monstrous actions. In this regard, this is an important film from Germany about German history. It is courageous and bravura film making and an important contribution to understanding how fascism came to power in Germany and why, of course, it must never be allowed to do so anywhere else again.
2005-06-04
grimly fascinating film
Ever since his death in a Berlin bunker at the end of World War II, there has been endless speculation and conjecture surrounding the final days of Adolph Hitler and his long time mistress Eva Braun. A few years back, a documentary entitled "Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary" interviewed one of the few people who claimed to be an eyewitness to those events, a young woman hired to take dictation for Der Fuehrer for the last two and a half years of his life. "Downfall" is a dramatized account of what she saw.

Indeed, this new film begins and ends with clips from that earlier work, in which a now aged Traudl Junge attempts to explain why she allowed herself to become a devotee of both Hitler and the Nazi party (she chalks it up, basically, to "curiosity"). After that brief preamble, "Downfall" plunges us immediately into that hellish time when the world lay in ruins and The Third Reich was breathing its long overdue final gasp.

The beauty of "Downfall" is not merely that it affords us a glimpse into one of the most fascinating bits of 20th Century history, but that it opens up aspects of human nature that we may not always wish to acknowledge. It shows Hitler as a man accustomed to being able to control events and the people around him suddenly rendered impotent in the face of a force - in this case the Russian army battering away at Germany's capital city - greater than himself. As events spiral more and more out of control, the dictator becomes ever more paranoid and divorced from reality (by the end he's issuing orders to an army that , quite literally, no longer exists). For him, the world suddenly divides itself up into those who will remain loyal and faithful to the bitter end and those who will become traitors both to him and to the "glorious cause" that defined their lives for so many years. For one thing the movie is clear to acknowledge is that, even in his final moments, Hitler remains unrepentant and convinced that not only was he right in what he did, but that future generations would come to recognize that rightness and honor him for it. In many ways, this is the story of any failed dictator whose dreams of worldwide domination end in the smoldering ruins of his own hubris.

But it is not merely Hitler who exhibits bizarre behavior in the face of onrushing doom. Even though most of the people who have chosen to remain in the bunker with their leader are fully aware of the fate that awaits them, they maintain many of the rituals and accoutrements of "civilized," "gracious" living: they hold dances, sing patriotic songs, drink champagne from crystal glasses, read magazines, all the while calmly discussing the ideal way to kill themselves. Despite their fear, they are so caught up in the vision and the man to whom they have sworn allegiance that they are willing to die - and take their children with them into death - rather than live in a world without their beloved Fuehrer.

The makers of "Downfall" run the risk common to any work that attempts to provide a three-dimensional portrait of Hitler: the accusation that they are trying to "humanize" a man whose epic disregard for human life puts him in the category of the greatest monsters who ever lived. And, indeed, the movie does show Hitler displaying moments of warmth and tenderness, mainly aimed towards the women in his life (and, of course, his dog). Yet, who among us really believes that Hitler NEVER showed affection to those who were close to him? It was the fact that he COULD treat the people he loved in this way yet was unable to extend that same sense of empathy and concern to the faceless, nameless millions he slaughtered that made him the true incarnation of evil on earth.

The film also does a great job showing the varied reaction of Hitler's military commanders as they argue back and forth over whether to level with him about the hopelessness of the situation and thereby risk incurring his wrath or to continue to feed his delusions and let him go out thinking he was still master of his fate.

The performances are all first rate, but I would like to single out especially the lively and vivacious Juliane Kohler who manages to make Eva Braun's blind devotion to a murderous madman and fearlessness in the face of death touching, understandable, and - dare I say it? - strangely heroic. As Junge, Alexandra Maria Lara shrewdly portrays a woman whose own devotion to the man and the cause is tempered by a certain degree of rationality and fear, to the point where she can ask, in a moment of candor, how Hitler can be so kind on a personal level, yet so brutal in his comments and actions. And, of course, Bruno Ganz gives a bravura performance as Hitler, running the gamut from full-throttle mania to tender solicitude while never losing sight of the man at the core.

Despite being set in the past, "Downfall" has a great deal of relevance to our own time. To see Magda Goebbels methodically and systematically poisoning each one of her own children before having herself killed is to understand a little better how family men can fly planes filled with innocent men, women and children into skyscrapers. It's a scary and sobering sight indeed. Now if only we as a species could learn some of the lessons put forth by this film.
2006-07-24
A truer rendition of Hitler I've never seen...
Not since perhaps Rod Steiger's portrayal of Benito Mussolini in Moustapha Akkad's LION OF THE DESERT (1980) have I seen a notorious dictator more realistically acted than Bruno Ganz's stunning display as "Der Fuerer" in The Downfall (2004).

Sitting amongst a full-house of patrons here at the Toronto Int'l Film Festival's 2004 edition, Ganz captivated the local audience with the scariest Hitler I've ever seen up on the silver screen -- better than Noah Taylor's English Hitler in MAX just a couple of years back.

Audience members get a glimpse into the final days of Hitler's rule from the bunker deep beneath the Reich Chancellery in Nazi Berlin's dying days. The defeated spirit of the Nazis -- covered extensively in the history books -- has seldomly been more penetratingly shown on the Big Screen. Bravo to director Oliver Hirschbiegel for doing this the right (German) way -- for intrepidly tackling a period piece few German producers might.

I'd had a chance to chat with the actors post-screening, with lead actress Alexandra Maria Lara (playing Traudl Junge) candidly admitting the sheer amount of work she'd diligently invested in bringing her character to life -- doubtless complicated by the death of Frau Junge in 2002. Her research, however, was clearly impeccable and left no stone unturned. Corinna Harfouch wasn't on hand -- as Magda Goebbels. Pity because in many respects, she convincingly stole the show.

So rarely do we see Hitler on screen in modern days to allow us a glimpse into the horrifying nature of a madman bent on global domination. We all know the end of this story, but seldom does a film so masterfully suspend your disbelief than does The Downfall in making you wonder just how the Third Reich might end. Historical fiction might never be the same.
2004-09-15
A new angle on WWII that needed to be put to film
Painting Hitler and the Nazis as anything other than real human beings is the great failing of most WWII movies. This film dares to show a different side of the cast of characters we have come to regard as soulless monsters, while still showing us why they are regarded as such. However, their human sides are revealed as are the impetus behind many of their decisions and actions.

I have never seen a better film about WWII from any perspective. The plight of the Jews was barely shown because we have seen it in countless other great films like Schindler's List. This allowed for more time to be devoted to the Nazi government and was one of the most interesting and informative films I have ever seen. I gave it a 9 instead of a 10 because of a subplot or two that could have been shortened. However, these showed the plight of the German citizenry which was necessary to the story; they just could have been a tad shorter.
2007-07-22
Cinema at its best
It may not be entertaining, Leo Di Caprio may not be in it, there may be no no melodrama, no fake emotions, no Hollywoodisation of History for American audiences, but Der Untergang is certainly one of the best period films ever. Hitler, the most odious figure in History, is portrayed not in a sympathetic way but as he was: a man, persuaded that he was doing the right thing; with painstaking realism, and aided by one of the most riveting performances ever, the film shows us that there is a monster inside every one of us, living side by side with more gentle traits. Superlative acting, awesome script, overwhelming presentation of the subject matter: a near-perfect cinematic experience.
2005-01-26
An instant classic!
I don't read into history that much, but I was fascinated by this movie and the subtle and convincing acting.

A great movie will make you think about the theme and characters for weeks, and that's exactly what this movie does; I even went so far as too research Blondi, Hitler's dog.

The character development between Frau Jungdl and the young German boy puts a semi-positive spin on the saga. When the Germans admit to themselves they are beaten, one can see the base of human emotion and circumstance in the characters, and relate to them.

Engrossed in the movie and the flawless character portrayals, I actually felt bad for the Germans and in my American brazenness, wanted them to fight back! Overall, a superb movie with replay value and historical accuracies.
2007-01-25
I wish I could vote higher than 10 out of 10 for this film
This film is an absolutely stupendous achievement. Every aspect of this production is perfect. Brilliantly photographed, keenly written & directed, and filled with stellar performances led by Bruno Ganz, Der Untergang piqued my curiosity and made my skin crawl.

I was aghast at the insanity and the horror that was the final days of the Third Reich. And leading the crazed was the Fuhrer himself, a miserable, twisted, twitching wretch of a man. Bruno Ganz is amazing as he lets us see all aspects of the man's personality, from kindly father to deranged psychopath. We see Hitler as a polite, well-mannered diner. We see Hitler as a screaming lunatic, ordering his generals to marshal forces which no longer exist. We see him as a devoted dog lover and vegetarian. We see him as a man who has no mercy for the brother of his longtime mistress (and soon-to-be wife). Mr. Ganz is worth 10 stars alone, even if you saw & heard nothing else in this film.

I would be remiss were I not to also sing the praises of Alexandra Maria Lara, who portrays Traudl Junge, one of Hitler's secretaries. The film is told primarily from her point of view, and Ms. Lara's performance was compelling. I have no idea how you prepare for a role like this; portraying the hopelessness of being trapped with lunatics while bombs destroy everything except your locale cannot be easy, but Ms. Lara made me feel it every time she was on the screen. (It doesn't hurt that she is breathtakingly beautiful, either.)

The script (by producer Bernd Eichinger) is excellent, covering a lot of ground succintly and elegantly. The direction is top-notch, providing us with the grit of real battles and the surreal atmosphere of Hitler's bunker. Locations, costumes, lighting, sets... every technical aspect of this film is perfect. It is as if they were able to somehow film the past.

The horrors of Nazi Germany are well documented and publicized, as we strive to prevent that particular piece of history from repeating itself. Der Untergang's greatest achievement is that it is able to so perfectly place us in the middle of 10 of the worst days in the lives of some of the worst people ever to walk the planet. To see them as human beings, and not caricatures, is amazing. I tell you, I was unable to stop myself at times from simply muttering "that's crazy! Madness!" How can human's become so twisted, so deranged?

Film is an inherently powerful medium, bombarding our senses like no other form of entertainment. As such, viewing this film in the larger context of the desirability of promulgating and maintaining a warlike culture may have a lasting impact on the viewer.

A masterful achievement. All involved should be proud.
2006-10-01
Far and away the best film of 2005
I came across this film in the video store while searching for a movie I have already forgotten. It wedged in a tiny column in between entire walls of "Brokeback Mountain" and "The Wedding Crashers." It was only because of the Oscar buzz over the former and the sophomoric media hoopla over the latter that this film has received such little attention here in the US despite being vastly superior to either.

What impressed me the most about this film was Bruno Ganz's acting. His portrayal of Hitler was the capstone to a production effort that could have stood without him. As a historian I have seen the footage of Hitler giving speeches and read numerous accounts of his madman personality (both on stage and in private) that held his audiences spellbound. Ganz could have been forgiven had he failed to capture this virtually impossible act, yet he does so flawlessly. Words can't really describe it; the viewer must witness it for himself. At the same time, however, Ganz manages to portray the human side of Hitler as well, the non-drinking, non-smoking vegetarian who was an absolute hit with children. It is a true testament to Ganz's performance that some historically-illiterate critics felt that he portrayed Hitler as being "too human" while others felt he went overboard in his portrayal of Hitler's lunacy.

Ganz is not the whole show, however. Much of the movie is focused on the plight of every Berliner, ranging from Eva Braun and Hitler's close subordinates to Hitler Youth mounting a last stand in the streets to the old men and women being chased through the streets as "deserters" by the SS. The acting is superb across the board and the production of Berlin burning is downright disturbing in its accuracy. Those with narrow attention spans will have difficulty with the length but the engaged viewer will find themselves enjoying every minute. This film is a true masterpiece and the best piece of German cinema since "Das Boot".
2006-05-19
I have never seen a better film...
A morbid fascination for the last few days of the Third Reich is the driving force in making this such a gripping film. The actors are astonishingly magnificent and the grit of life in the bunker as Hitlers army collapses around him is so desperately baron that you cannot help but feel truly hollow by the end of the film - which supports its realism.

The movie is claustaphobic and at times painful to watch, but it is always fascinating. The subtext and the lines that aren't spoken, instead communicated with a look or expression from the actors make this in my mind an incredibly brave film, a well shot and scripted film and a must see for any film enthusiast. It is quite simply, the best film I have ever seen.
2008-03-17
A must to see
I saw the movie last week in an overcrowded cinema and was surprised about the outstanding actors (Bruno Ganz and Corinna Harfouch) , the perfect screenplay (Bernd Eichinger) and the work of director Oliver Hirschbiegel.

What happened on the screen gave the closest insight into the darkest part of German history and the darkest corners of human nature.

The movie shows the human being Hitler as that monster and mad man he was. And no one else as he himself destroys and demystifies his 'legend'. Based strictly on historical facts and dialogs the movie shows, why The Downfall (Der Untergang) had to happen.

One of the most harrowing scene is, when Magda Goebels kills her six children cold blooded. The camera does not turn away and shows the details of cruelty to make clear, what this kind of blind fanaticism leads to. Many scenes are really hard to bear but they are necessary to tell the story.

There are many discussions around the world right now and many ask, if Hitler should be shown as a human being and if Germany should look back on its past that way. I am convinced, that after you have seen the movie, the answer will be yes. The characters on the screen are no role models for Nazis of today. No one of the perpetrators become victims. The screenplay describes but it never explains. What happens on the screen explains itself.

I am sure 'The Downfall' is of international interest and will be an international success.

A must to see.

Greetings from Dirk, Munich, Germany
2004-09-27
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