Write descriptive essay about Downfall movie 2004, write an essay of at least 500 words on Downfall, 5 paragraph essay on Downfall, definition essay, descriptive essay, dichotomy essay.
Italy, Germany, Austria
Drama, Biography, History, War
IMDB rating:
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.
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60 years ago
It has been months since Der Untergang first premiered. For one reason or another, I kept postponing it, month after month, country after country. Luck dictated I should see it on May 9th 2005, in Hannover, Germany. The 60th anniversary of the Armistice in Europe. The day we celebrate an united Europe (that same Europe that Robert Schumman kicked-off in the 50s and still works in preventing further wars). To make it clear: I am not German. Yet, for more than a few reasons, the history of the Second World War always touched me in a particular way. Not that it was any different from so many other wars. Except for the numbers. Never did human cruelty climbed to such levels. Never did we realize as then, how easy can society mutate into a monster. This was a highly intense movie to watch. Bruno Ganz will for ever be remembered as the magisterial actor that played Hitler - as Ben Kingsley is remembered for Gandhi. We see him in this film as a madman. There is no other way to describe it. He was insane. An insane man led the world to collapse, brought Humanity to its knees, and did so unquestioned. Der Untergang is full of strong imagery - it shouldn't matter if those in the streets were German or not. The human misery is total. I could not contain my tears in many occasions (not titanic tears, rather those that come from the depth, those that imply something beyond the screen. tears of History). In others, I simply had to close or cover my eyes, so brutal were the scenes. And as we come to an end, I am, as viewer, left with a sense of emptiness. The credits came, ran for 10 minutes, and I just sat there, crying compulsively for 10 minutes. Not due to the film, but to all that is behind it.

As I exited the theatre, I noticed a few other people drying their faces. Outside, the cold had returned. The wind blew strong and icy, some rain drops fell on me. And I walked. I wandered in the cold rain for one hour. I can only think of two other films that left me this disoriented, this helpless.

It should never happen again. Never.
The Definitive Word on the Subject
In Oliver Hirschbiegel's "Downfall", we follow young secretary Traudi Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara) into Hitler's bunker and witness the final days of the Third Reich through her increasingly disillusioned eyes.

Finally, Germany gives us a film on the matter, and, rather unsurprisingly, it feels far more authentic that any other take on the subject. Hirschbiegel's film is taut and claustrophobic and his characters breathe and feel real. His depiction of the war above ground is harrowing and efficient... Yet, as with all such films, "Der Untergang" will live or die by its central character: Hitler.

Hitler is such a monumental figure that, if you translate him, you are unable to see anything else than the actor portraying him, however talented (Anthony Hopkins and Alec Guiness gave it a go and didn't transcend). For the most part, we have had to accept mediocre caricatures suggesting that Hitler was as seen in his speeches (overly manic/dramatic) 24/7 (most films about Hitler fall prey to this, and "Hitler, the rise of Evil"'s Robert Carlyle is just another example of getting it completely wrong!). Bruno Ganz's portrayal of Adolf Hitler crashes through these misconceptions and the heavy baggage and makes us distinguish the man from the phenomenon. To our horror, we discover that the man who sparked this wretched out-of-control ideology is also a sometimes touching and amiable father-figure, making us understand how so many people would follow him. Ganz manages to become the man, utterly believable throughout, whether showing kindness to someone, yelling at his cowardly generals, or putting his pet out of its misery (a heart-breaking scene).

The film, technically admirable and boasting powerhouse performances, truly marks itself as a triumph in terms of tone and message. "Der Untergang" shows quite rightly that it is not the misguided and ultimately tragic man, but the system and its followers, that are monstrous. Ganz's Hitler seethes with anger at what he perceives as a betrayal: the German people have failed him, putting an end to the lie that Hitler was a cunning and deceitful sorcerer who brain-washed Germany. The people deceived themselves, and in the final moments, Magda Goebbles and other underlings prove themselves to be more repugnant and evil than Hitler himself ever could be. Thus, the film attracted naive controversy because many refuse to see Hitler as a human being. They do not realize that doing so dilutes the most important message of Nazi Germany: the people, not just Hitler, made it what it was! This could all too easily happen again...

You owe it to yourself to see this incredible film!
One of the Best Movies I've Ever Watched
Seriously, I wasn't expecting much, but this was one of the best movies period. The actors and acting was terrific, the sets were incredible (St. Petersburg, Russia), the emotions... I felt like I was in Berlin during the last few days, I felt like I was in the bunker with Hitler. It is the most realistic depiction of the situation I had ever seen, and I almost felt a tear in my eye. And that is something, coming from a 40 year old Army veteran. The last 5 minutes, I was on the edge of my seat, when the Russians showed up. Anyway, this movie is totally recommended by me, but brush up on your Nazi history first, or you won't know who is who.

I also liked it because it showed Hitler as a real human, and not the usual Anthony Hopkins/Alec Guiness "nutbag" Hitler, or the stereotypical "demon" Hitler. It showed him as he was, a broken down egomaniac. I will totally buy this movie and add it to my collection, which is rare for me to do these days.
"Downfall"of a Monster
"I was not an enthusiastic Nazi," a woman's voice-over tells us at the opening of "Downfall," as if to underscore her lack of complicity in Germany's actions in the second World War, or perhaps to convince herself. It is 1943 when director Oliver Hirschbiegel's film about the last tormented days of Adolph Hitler begins, and that voice belongs to the real Traudl Junge (played here by Alexandra Maria Lara), one of several young women smuggled into the Führer's headquarters in East Prussia to interview for a position as his private secretary. When she messes up the first go-round at dictation, Traudl, whose curiosity about Hitler is the catalyst for her adventure, is moved by the dictator's gentleness and generosity. A moment later she is jumping for joy to land such a prestigious position.

Two and a half years later, things are considerably different. The German military has suffered severe losses, Berlin is under artillery attack by the advancing Russians, the great experiment in National Socialism is crumbling like the city, and Hitler (Bruno Ganz) and his key commandants have retreated to the leader's private bunker. But the megalomaniacal Hitler, who irrationally still believes he can produce a Third Reich that is a German "treasure house of art and culture" comparable to that of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, not only refuses to give up, but also shouts at his minions that a new military strategy is in effect that will help them win the war. How delusional!

Despite their resolute faith in the Führer, even some of the elite members of the SS have come to mistrust his judgment. Albert Speer (Heino Ferch), the famed architect of the Third Reich, looks askance at Hitler over a table top model of the cultural structures he planned to create for the master race. Field marshall Hermann Göring cannot (or will not) obey orders. Nazi doctors refuse to let civilians and young men die without some attempt at medical attention. When Hitler is told that "fifteen to twenty thousand" of those young men were lost in an effort to fight off the Russians, his heartlessly-spewed response is: "that's what they're for." But he will go out onto the street during a lull in the shelling to honor youngsters as heroes who "history will take note of," and pinch the cheek of one particularly innocent- looking lad.

The bipolarity of a man who himself has gone down in history as one of its greatest monsters is at the heart of "Downfall," the screenplay (by Bernd Eichinger) for which is based on historian Joachim Fest's book (The Downfall: Inside Hitler's Bunker, The Last Days of the Third Reich) and on the memoir of the real Traudl Junge (Until the Final Hour: Hitler's Last Secretary). The film does not ask us to sympathize with this madman (given his actions, how could it?), but it does present a profile of a man who, despite his obvious dementia, still managed to hold sway over those who earlier pledged their loyalty to him and were determined to maintain it to the bitter end. And is it ever bitter.

The claustrophobic confines of the elaborately designed bunker (by Production Designer Bernd Lepel) are reminiscent of the submarine in the German film "Das Boot." We can practically smell its fetid air and feel the walls closing in on us as the Russians close in on the city. Given these circumstances, we can understand how Eva Braun ("Nowhere in Africa's" Juliane Köhler in another terrific performance) can say to Traudl, "The shelling has stopped, let's go for a walk," even if the suggestion is as insane as staying with Hitler.

But like the others who stick it out and who, in many instances, make inhuman, incomprehensible sacrifices to do so, both women descend yet again to that labyrinth of madness.

Aside from the exploration of Hitler's increasingly fragile grip on reality, what is most fascinating about how he is depicted is his appeal, particularly to women. In addition to Traudl and Eva Braun, the short, mustachioed man with the thinning comb-over mesmerized such otherwise strong-willed women as pilot Hanna Reitsch (Anna Thalbach), and Magda Goebbels (Corinna Harfouch), wife of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes). As such, "Downfall's" strength is greatest when it sticks to these human dynamics rather than when it sidetracks to subplots outside the bunker that have little or nothing to do with the story that unfolds in that enclosed world.

War is the ugliest, or among the ugliest of human actions, and "Downfall" does not glamorize it. On the contrary, despite its technically superb cinematography (by Rainer Klausmann, who also shot "Head On"), there are a number of graphic sequences that underscore the horrors of war, as if we needed reminding. Then again, perhaps we do.

"Downfall" does not necessarily present new information on those last twelve days of Hitler's life, but it does present it in a worthwhile way. In a time of war, such as the one we are currently living in, it is important to remember that monsters are made, not born, and that they lurk beneath the surface of some otherwise very ordinary humans.
'Grim' Look At The Nazis' Final Hours
Wow, what a grim movie. How I stuck with this for 155 minutes, I don't know, but it's a fairly involving story once you get into it and you want to see how it's all played out.

A main reason I use the word "grim" is that there are more scenes with people committing suicide in this movie than all the movies (thousands) I've seen put together.

This German movie deals with the last days Of Hitler and the Nazis in Berlin in April of 1945. In the end, most of the people in the film either kill themselves, as mentioned, or execute their loved ones in order to avoid capture by the Russians, who overtook the city. This includes poisoning a group of young children.

While not overly gory, some of the scenes are shocking, ones I suspect would linger in anyone's memory..

Bruno Ganz as Adolph Hitler was intriguing, to say the least. As an American, I can recall very few, if any, films in which Hitler was shown to this degree with this much dialog. Being such a famous figure in history, it was one of the reasons, frankly, I stayed with the film. I never this man portrayed on film.

Alexandra Maria Lara as "Traudl Junge" was the bright spot in this dismal story, a beautiful and wholesome-looking woman with an expressive face. She was the only character in the film that I cared about. Everyone else is pretty cold. Junge "won" the job as a secretary for Hitler and is pictured as sweet and naive woman...and just one more of the millions of victims of World War II. Victims can be survivors, too, as the story concludes, if for nothing else, for suffering with a guilty conscience for decades.

This war movie definitely can be classified as "different" and memorable. I doubt if I'd ever watch this again, but it was worth the one viewing, that's for sure.
"You have to feel that Hitler was a human being; only then he is a real horror."
The first internationally released German production to feature Hitler as a central figure, "Downfall" (2004) takes place in the dismal gloomy Berlin during April - May 1945 in anticipation of the inevitable German defeat. The film shows the last days of Hitler and those close to him through the eyes of his young secretary, Traudl Junge.

Oliver Hirschbiegel's film has been criticized by some circles as presenting a "too sympathetic" portrait of the Fuhrer. I don't believe anything in the film suggests that its creators sympathize with the Nazi regime and those who had orchestrated it.

Showing Hitler as a human being (amazing performance by Bruno Ganz), a man who loved his dog, was a vegetarian and could display some moments of tenderness did not undermine the overall image of a lonely, domineering, conscienceless, and hateful man who believed that his people, his compatriots, women and children deserve to die because they are no longer deserve to live and because "in a war as such there are no civilians".

Did those who think that that the film "humanized" Hitler forget the most chilling scene in the movie, the one that shows Frau Goebbels crush the ampoules with cyanide between her children's teeth, after they had been dosed with a sleeping draught? She did it not because she was scared of what would happen to them after the war, no, her reason was, "The country without National Socialism and its party is not worth living in". How dangerous Hitler was if he could induce such a blind devotion that could convince a mother of six to murder her children in cold blood.

Bernd Eichinger, the producer and scriptwriter of "Downfall" emphasized, the greatest danger he saw in making a film about Hitler was the temptation to show him as a psychopath or madman: "Hitler possessed an enormous criminal and destructive energy, and he was a barbarian in the most fundamental sense of the term... But I am convinced that he was totally of sound mind until the very end, which is why leadership never slipped from his hands."

The film's director Oliver Hirschbiege says that, in the same way it was evil of Hitler to see Jews as less than human beings - i.e. as "insects" - it would be equally wrong to portray Hitler as a madman, because that would excuse him of culpability: "I think the biggest mistake is to have an image of Hitler as insane - that he was not a human being but a monster. The most important point to realize is that Hitler was not a madman, not a psychopath or someone on drugs, which implies that he wasn't responsible for what he was doing. Of course he was responsible! "For me, (this film is) paying homage to and truly honoring the victims, because we fall short if we explain the Holocaust by stating that they were all out of their minds. They knew what they were doing!"

I believe that the result of their work, the film I saw last night is absolutely unforgettable - honest, powerful and devastating. It is a masterwork of film-making and a very important in its objectivity historical document.

One of the great modern epics and one of the most haunting films ever made
Downfall is a film not without it's flaws but I feel it is one of the most important films I've ever seen. It is so accurate and so unbiased in it's portrayal of Hitler and the final days of his Reich that we get to see the man behind the monster and the people who have sold their soul to him. Nazis weren't beacons of pure evil, they were human beings and Downfall takes this to heart. I remember the film received some criticism upon it's release for being "sympathetic" to the Third Reich, sympathy is not the emotion Oliver Hirschbiegel is trying to inset in his audience, I felt he wanted them to develop a sense of understanding.

Bruno Ganz is haunting and mesmerizing as Hitler, but the dictator is not the main focus of the film. It is largely an ensemble piece about the fall of Berlin to the Russian army through various perspectives. We see the efforts of an SS Doctor named Ernst Gunther Schneck as he tries to look out for the interests of his fellow Germans and we see that he is most troubled by the SS' indifference to the suffering. There is a very well done subplot about a group of Hitler youth being called into battle because there simply isn't anyone else left. The group of children have been brainwashed and believe that they must fight to the death, and they do despite the pleas of a boy's broken father. To say this is simply a film about Nazi' would be an understatement, it's a film about Germany and the uncertainty of her future.

We have little time to catch our breath as we are thrust into the Bunker where the Fuhrer will sit through the destruction of his empire and have to endure a hellish demise. And go through Hell he will, the fortunes of the war shift dramatically for the worse. Hitler sits in his war room moving troops across it which don't exist anymore. His Generals and followers don't know what to think anymore. Some want to continue to place complete faith in Hitler and some believe it is time to end the war. Hitler himself clings onto the slimmest chances that he can lead Germany to victory. He continues to plan for the building of a new model Berlin and seldom does he show his true intentions or thoughts. Only when his closest followers abandon him does Hitler realize that he has no chance of winning the war. We are unsure of what Hitler wants to hang onto, he makes it very clear that he doesn't care about the citizens of Berlin. He sees them as weak and as traitors to their own cause even though they continue to fight to the last man for him. In many ways the Bunker is a surreal area void of reality. In it's walls, Hitler is still a powerful leader and not a weak old man drained by war. The occupants know their fate but they never admit it or bring it up. Eva Braun plans a huge party with dancing and drinking but it is interrupted by powerless due to the firing of Russian artillery, when the power returns Eva doesn't ask if anyone is all right she orders that the music be put back on. Hitler makes a big deal about his killing himself, he is clear that this is the last and only option. When he parts with his secretaries and staff we see Hitler's trademark theatricality. He doesn't speak to any of his followers except for Magda Goebbels, whom he gives his official seal to praising her as the bravest mother in the Reich. Magda later comes to the realization that she would rather kill her young children rather than let them live in a world without their Uncle Adolf and Aunt Eva and National Socialism.

In the end the influence of the Third Reich only extended from the mind of a madman to a group of uncertain people buried below the rubble.

If Downfall has a main character it is Traudi Junge, Hitler's secretary, played by the beautiful actress Alexandra Maria Lara. This character is the most compelling in the film. She is young and by her own admission she sought a career with the Nazis because she saw an opportunity for advancement. The best scene is when the two central characters are introduced in the beginning of the film, Traudi is applying to be Hitler's secretary. Hitler's introduction into the picture is filmed relatively simply but Ganz' presence is huge and rather Traudi looks like she is looking into the eyes of God. Hitler brings the girl to his office to test her typing skills and he makes small talk about his beloved German Shepard Blondi. Ganz makes him appear like a father figure to the girl, patient and understanding. It is one of the best scenes of the film. The relationship between Traudi and Hitler is handled with utmost care. Traudi is never sure what to think about Hitler, he both repulses and fascinates her. She convinces herself that she sees something past the hate filled rants, she tries to find Hitler's soul. And the audience is brought along on this search. The thought of Hitler having a soul is a tough conundrum to think about, but past the hate,the racism, and the evil was a man who was gentle and understanding with Traudi and who loved his dear old dog Blondi.

Showing Hitler and his Third Reich as humans is the best way to respect the sheer evil of the Holocaust. If we think of Hitler as nothing put pure evil we lessen the tragedy and the enormity of humanity's darkest hour. A human being is capable of error and Downfall is about flawed people who allowed themselves to be taken in by a crazy man and how they and the nation of Germany had to pay for their sins
A chillingly accurate portrayal of Der Führer and the fall of The Third Reich
Adolf Hitler. The very name is enough to send a chill down your spine. Not because of what it is or was, but because of what it stands for, what we involuntarily and immediately think of when we are reminded of him. The deaths of so many people and the cause of so much evil. Now, almost sixty years after his death, we finally get a chance to see his downfall, his last hours and days... and this turns out to be a very revealing portrayal. Oliver Hirschbiegel takes what so many people have tried to turn into a monster and makes it human again, makes us believe that this man actually existed and was a man, not a beast. We see Hitler's frustration at defeat, his kindness to his employees, his refusal to accept the truth. The plot is very good, and almost completely authentic. I could only find two historical inaccuracies in the film, and that is incredible, compared to the amount of stuff that was as if taken directly from the history book or another equally reliable source. The pacing is great. I was hardly bored at any point during the film, despite it being quite long and the language spoken was one I couldn't understand(thank god for subtitles). With that said, I have to applaud this film's realism and authenticity. Every single German character in the film speaks German. There are a few scenes with Russian characters as well... and they naturally speak Russian. Not English with a poorly faked accent, like we generally see in Hollywood films. In fact, there is not really any Hollywood in the film. Just gritty, hard realism. No heroic acts that are rewarded. No 'fireball' explosions. No holding back on injuries, even when it comes to 'our heroes'. Actually, that's probably what impressed me the most(when it comes to non-Hollywood stuff in this film); there are no heroes. No one is raised above the rest, no one is pure, good and true *all the time*... no one is a hero. Everyone is a human being. The acting is flawless. Bruno Ganz is a perfect choice for Adolf Hitler. No, scratch that; THE perfect choice. You forget that you're watching an actor. You're completely absorbed by his performance. The casting was mostly spot-on, with most of the historical characters looking and acting just like they did in real life. The details are another thing that raises this film to a new level. The tiniest little things in these people's lives, the most human and typical things are presented as they are or were, in the film. Hitler's Parkinson's disease, Goebbels' slight limp, etc. Smaller details include a soldier quickly rubbing his eyes of soot and gunpowder before looking through binoculars and a brief dialog showing Hitler and his promises' effect on many Germans, even children. This is just so talented directing, it's hard to say anything negative. The editing is sharp and the cinematography is perfect. Not one shot lasts too long or ends too early. A few things were changed(from the historical record of what happened) for dramatical reasons, but it didn't bother me and probably won't be a deal-breaker for anyone else(it really shouldn't, anyway, except maybe for historians who go for nothing but authenticity and accuracy). The one thing I will say is that no one should go see this movie unless they are absolutely certain of what they're in for, when it comes to violence and realism. This is gratuitous and detailed, no holding back. Not for the faint of heart. Definitely not. Also, you will need somewhat extensive knowledge of Hitler and the people around him in that time, or you won't really understand what is going on. Read up on him or watch a Discovery Channel special first, then watch the film. I recommend this to just about anyone who can tolerate the language(I don't know if there is a dubbed version of this film, but in my honest opinion, you should stay away from any other version than the original) and the violence, and, most importantly, the idea that Hitler was a human being, not some supernatural, cold-hearted monster. 10/10
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.
Menschlich, Allzu Menschlich
It has sometimes been said that because men no longer believed in the Devil, God created Adolf Hitler to serve as a symbol of absolute evil. This film, which tells the story of the last few days of World War II in Europe, largely seen from the perspective of Hitler and members of his inner circle as the victorious Russian army approaches the gates of Berlin, avoids that concept and tries to show us Hitler the man rather than Hitler the devil. It has been criticised in some circles for that approach, but in my opinion the criticism is not a valid one. Hitler was precisely that- a man, no less human for also being evil. We will never succeed in understanding the crimes of the Nazis if we persist in trying to see Hitler as the spawn of Satan or as some bizarre, inhuman alien being. He was, in Nietzsche's words, menschlich, allzu menschlich. (Human, all too human).

To make someone seem human is not necessarily to make them seem sympathetic, but we must remember that Hitler had succeeded in obtaining more than 40% of the vote in free elections, had won the fanatical loyalty of millions of Germans and had succeeded in retaining the loyalty of many of them even when it seemed obvious that his cause was lost. (We see some of that loyalty reflected in the film, especially among the fanatical young soldiers prepared to fight to the death). If he had been an obviously evil psychopath he would never have done any of those things, but would have remained the leader of a tiny movement on the lunatic fringe of German politics, winning the loyalty of only a small fraternity of kindred spirits. He could not have succeeded without possessing immense reserves of charm and charisma.

This film tries to show some of the characteristics which helped Hitler in his rise to power. We see him being kind to his secretary, Traudl Junge, on whose memoirs the film was partly based, affable and friendly to the young soldiers he decorates for their desperate acts of bravery, affectionate to his dog Blondi and loving to his mistress Eva Braun. (We like to think that, sexually, Hitler must have been either abnormally perverted or abnormally repressed because we do not like the idea that so monstrous an individual had a fairly mundane sex life, a monogamous heterosexual relationship with an attractive blonde girlfriend).

We do, of course, see far more of the opposite side of his character. By the end of the war Hitler had lost all contact with reality, and when we first see him he is unrealistically optimistic, believing that the German army will still succeed in driving the Allies back, issuing commands to non-existent fighting units and even congratulating himself on his strategic skill which has led the enemy into a trap. Later, when even he cannot deny the imminence of defeat, he falls into self-pity, raging against the cruelty of fate or against the German people who have proved unworthy of him. We see that he was not only brutal towards his own enemies but also completely callous towards his own people, refusing to surrender and not caring how many more lives might be lost. The role of Hitler must be one of the most difficult that any actor could be called on to play, but Bruno Ganz meets the challenge magnificently. He meets the physical demands of the role, bringing out Hitler's strong Austrian accent and the paralysed arm tucked behind his back. (Hitler had been injured in a failed assassination attempt the previous year). More importantly, he also rises to its emotional demands, showing the mixture of reckless optimism and despair, impotent rage, hatred and and self-pity which characterised the Fuehrer in his last days. The one thing, however, that Hitler never does is to express any sort of contrition for his crimes, which means that although he is human he is never pitiable.

We also see the moral blindness of the rest of Hitler's circle. The most chilling is Corinna Harfouch's portrayal of Magda Goebbels, wife of the infamous propaganda minister, who calmly poisons her own children because she does not want them to grow up in a world without National Socialism. Himmler, as deluded as his leader, vainly hopes that he can negotiate a separate peace with the Western powers that will leave him in power. Albert Speer, more realistic, sees that the war is lost and tries in vain to persuade Hitler to surrender, but he too fails to realise that it is the crimes of the Nazis, in which he played his part, that have brought this disaster upon Germany. Some relief is provided by Alexandra Maria Lara as the naive young Traudl; we also see excerpts from interviews with the real Traudl Junge towards the end of her life, when she confesses that neither her youth nor her naivety can excuse her failure to realise the true nature of the regime she served.

This is a bleak, grim film, set against scenes of a ruined city, with an ever-present sense of death and destruction. It is, however, a brave and powerful film which should be seen not only by anyone with an interest in the history of the Second World War but also by anyone who wants to understand the roots of human evil. No-one who has really watched it could make the mistake of considering it pro-Nazi. Oliver Hirschbiegel is to be congratulated for confronting this dark chapter in his nation's history with such courage and honesty. Congratulations are also due to Channel 4 for flying in the face of the British public's normal disdain for foreign-language films when they recently showed this important film at peak evening viewing time. 9/10
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