Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel
Screening at FACT from 15th - 28th April 2005
There have been many ham-fisted attempts to play Hitler in movies, but
in Downfall the German speaking Swiss actor Bruno Ganz is compelling in
The film covers the last days of Hitler's life before he commits suicide.
He is holed up in a bunker along with the remnants of the Nazi high command,
including Joseph Goebbels, beneath the Reich chancellery as the Russian
Red Army circles Berlin.
It is the first German feature film for fifty years to give Hitler a major
role and is an outstanding success. Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel it
accurately portrays Hitler's acute paranoia and his acute sense of being
betrayed by a number of his generals.
What is particularly chilling is his disavowal of the German people -
he is willing for the civilian population to be obliterated by the Russians.
"There are no civilians in war," Hitler declares.
One amusing moment in this film of utter despair is near the end when
a marriage registrar, brought to the bunker to perform the marriage of
Hitler to Eva Braun (Juliane Kohler), asks him for his ID. One of Hitler's
associates tells the registrar that "This is the Fuhrer."
One implausible scene was when Hitler's personal secretary Traudl Junge
(Alexandra Maria Lara) (she is featured being interviewed in real life
briefly before the end credits, describing her naivety about the horrific
deeds of Hitler) was allowed, dressed in a German uniform, to pass through
crowds of triumphant Russian soldiers without being stopped and escape
from Berlin. The way the Russian army wreaked their vengeance with the
mass rape of German women, of all ages, after they conquered Berlin was
a hell on earth for those who fell victim to them.