156 Min. | Biography – Drama – History | December 2004
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Starring: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes
This magnificent film goes where no one else dared to go to show us the last days of Adolf Hitler. The director, Oliver Hirshbiegel, working with a big cast, brings to life the madness of the last days of the monster, as observed by a young and impressionable secretary who witnessed most of the crisis. At the beginning of Downfall we watch as five young women are brought to be interviewed by Hitler for a job as his personal secretary. Young Traudl Junge is selected. She is a pretty woman who is naive in many ways and probably had no inkling about the trip she was going to embark.
Downfall captures the tragic figure of Hitler as everything is caving in on him and his grand plans for victory. We watch a man at the beginning of Downfall that is still thinking he is in command of the German forces, but his authority has eroded, as it becomes clear to the people under him the war is lost and it will be a matter of time before they are defeated. We watch the life of privilege the higher ups led inside the bunker. It was a fortification in which all comforts the regular Germans could not imagine existed. We get to know the people in Hitler’s inner circle. The Goebbels, both Joseph and Magda, supporters of the regime, maintain the loyalty to the Fuhrer until the end. The scene where Magda Goebbels murders her children is hard to take and we keep sinking in our seats, as we can’t believe such cruelty existed. In her narrow view of things, Magda must take her family with her to a death these children didn’t deserve.
Downfall is totally dominated by Bruno Ganz. As Hitler, he makes us see this man as he probably was in real life. Mr. Ganz’s uncanny resemblance with Hitler is what makes Downfall works the way it does. At times, Mr. Ganz is totally irrational, and at times, he is presented as a lost man who can’t see what he has done to Germany and to Europe and the world. As Traudl Junge, the young secretary, Alexandra Maria Lara gives a subtle performance. She saw plenty inside the bunker and lived to tell it to the world. The director and his team have to be congratulated for taking us on a voyage to see the last moments of the Third Reich.
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