The Downfall (Der Untergang, 2005)

If you are one of those people who have had enough of the monochromatic holocaustish World War II movies and are desperately looking for another angle, then “The Downfall” is the film for you. It is not anti-semitic nor is it a ‘hail hitler’ film…that way, it would not have reached the academy in 2005. I think it is an attempt to recount the tale of the last few days of the fuhrer and his team-the way it actually it happened. and boy, does it work!

I missed the opening credits and a good part of the beginning as I tuned in late…but read later that the film is actually an account of the last ten days in the sub-terrain headquarters. Also, it is based on books and accounts of people who were pretty much there. Like Frau Trudl Junge for example, who was Hitler’s secretary (and an extremely pretty one!). I was shocked to see her interview just before the credits – recorded in 2002….she was apparently alive until 2003!!!

Bruno Ganz is extremely believable as a tired, old and a still ruthlessly focussed Hitler. What strikes you about the film is the completely different character sketch of this man and for that matter, the Nazi junta itself. Doctors, friends, drinking buddies, lovers, kids…normal people. I love the way this scene has been written:

the end is near. the alco hol is out. some choose to end it in their own terms. So people leave the drinking table on by one with a mild good bye and enter the toilet where a doctor explains to them the science of shooting yourself and the tricks to keep it painless…no violin orchestras playing in the background, no close-ups to ‘enhance the emotion’, nothing. The scene just rocks you by itself.

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