In the dead of a November night in 1942, SS officers escort a group of young women to the Wolf’s Lair, Hitler’s headquarters in Eastern Prussia. They are candidates for the post of personal secretary to the Fuehrer. Among them is 22-year-old Traudl Junge, a fresh-faced girl from Munich. Traudl is chosen for the job and she is overcome with joy at the thought of serving beside her Fuehrer. Fast forward to BERLIN, APRIL 20, 1945: Hitler has retreated to a bunker system under the German Chancellery. Traudl Junge is asleep in her room, deep beneath the ground. She is awakened by tremors from artillery fire. The enemy is getting closer. Charting the last 10 days of Hitler’s life, from his 56th birthday on April 20th, 1945 to his suicide on April 30th, the film uses multiple characters to show the chaos of a country coming apart at the seams, from Hitler’s henchman under the streets of Berlin, to the soldiers and civilians fighting and dying as the Soviet Army destroyed the city above.
Rating: R (for strong violence, disturbing images and some nudity)
Directed by: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Runtime: 150 minutes
Studio: Newmarket Films
Downfall is certainly the most impressive, depressive and realistic dramatic movie about the World War II ever made. I have never seen a film picturing the insanity of Hitler in his very last days in a bunker in Berlin with his high command, and how the German people were hypnotized by him like in this film.
Two years ago, I saw the powerful “Das Experiment” and I was impressed with the work of Oliver Hirschbiegel. With Downfall this director is certainly included in my list of favorite directors. It is difficult to highlight one actor or actress in this collection of stars, but I was impressed with the performance of Bruno Ganz and his “human” Hitler, totally different from the stereotypes usual in other movies. The cinematography and the battles are stunning, and the scenario of Berlin completely destroyed recalled the neo-realistic movie of Roberto Rossellini “Germania Anno Zero”.
For those who know Germany and German people, it is utterly amazing to see believe this wonderful country survived all of this the chaos, destruction and lack of command, arrived from the ashes like Phoenix and sixty years later is again one of the greatest nations. For those minions who might have believed in Hitler and his Nazi Party, it is impressive to see how they are forgotten and treated without compassion by their leader in his last hours. And for those who love war, I really recommend this magnificent movie, to see the behavior of the leaders and population when a war is lost. My vote is ten.