Der Untergang/ Downfall (2004)… Hitler, unplugged.

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Downfall

My rating: 9

IMDB rating: 8.3

IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0363163/

Dearest reader,

Wow! What a movie! A while back, I saw this online list of the 50 best foreign films of the last decade. Luckily, there were a few films on this list that I had already seen and some of the others I added to my to-watch list. Number 14 on this list was a German film about Hitler,

The history books can tell you, but they can’t show you, and Downfall does just that. – Den of Geek

What I loved most about this film is the fact that they portrayed Hitler so intimately. While delving deeper into the philosophy of history, you will see that it is often difficult for a society to start creating literature or actually just talk about something that happened especially if it is still so fresh in their minds.

Take South Africa for example, we are celebrating our 20 years of democracy this year, but we are nowhere near having exhausted our verbal and literature-based retelling of the horrible things that happened during Apartheid.

Therefore, for the Germans to display Hitler so openly and intimately quite literally takes some balls. This movie, often classified under the ‘best war films’ is not the usual exposé on Nazi cruelties, it is the descent into madness of a once terrifying man.

(Hitler is not the only historic figure that the director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, has taken an interest in, his 2013 film, Diana, depicts the life of the late and great Lady Di and her most intimate affair)

To me, the most terrifying figure in this whole movie is Dr Goebbels. Played by Ulrich Matthes, he portrays the role of one of Hitler’s officers in command that displays the blind Nazi fanaticism that one often hears about. His wife, who is equally or not more fanatical, is a haunting characterization of what Hitler describes as the ‘true German mother’.

As with Battle of Algiers, one feels a kind of blurring of the genres; documentary and fiction. The film starts and ends with a real-life interview with Traudl Junge. During the interview she describes her regrets of, and ignorance towards the horrible things that was happening. This sets the mood for the film, as the viewer should know also decide; if they were her, what would they have believed?

Suicide is another big theme in this movie, and once again the viewer is asked; ‘what would you have done? Answered for your crimes or taken the easy way out?’ Hitler especially displays a very obsessive link with suicide, even in death still convincing several of his officer to follow suit.

 Is it a mistake to see him, after all, not as a monster standing outside the human race, but as just another human being? Roger Ebert

This is an important question, that we as viewers have to ask ourselves and I think the opinions will be varied….

Want to read more on Downfall? Try these…

The New York Times Downfall Review

Roger Ebert Downfall Review

World War II Marathon: Downfall 2004

Review: Downfall (2004).

Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004).

 

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