Downfall (2004)

OLIVER HIRSCHBIEGEL

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Original title:  Der Untergang

Germany/Italy/Austria, 2004, , , , , , .  Screenplay by , based on the book Der Untergang: Hitler und das Ende des Dritten Reiches by , and the book Bis Zur Letzten Stunde by , .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Academy Awards 2004National Board of Review Awards 2005Online Film Critics Awards 2005.  Toronto International Film Festival 2004.  

Epic, multi-plotted drama that covers the last days of Hitler’s life before he completely accepted defeat and committed suicide with his wife Ewa Braun. The film is mostly told from the point of view of young secretary Traudl Junge, a girl who shows up full of vim and vigour to work for the Fuhrer she so naively believes in, and gradually watches as the new world she has given so much of herself to creating crumbles to pieces around her. As the Russians approach Berlin and the city looks like it will fall, Hitler becomes more and more irrationally emotional with his men regarding their failure to lead the Third Reich to the grand victory over the world that it was meant to have. Meanwhile, Braun does her best to keep spirits high, standing by her lover (then later, before the final hour, husband) until the very end. An emotionally complex (though not necessarily sympathetic) portrait of the century’s most notorious political figure is definitely not something you usually get out of the films made on this subject, and his character is brought to life exceptionally well in ‘s powerful performance.  also excels as Braun, while the supporting cast, especially as Junge, does a fantastic job in giving life to Bernd Eichinger’s intelligent screenplay. Make sure you stay long enough to see a videoclip interview with the real-life Junge; it puts the whole film in perspective and is the most impressive part of the entire experience.

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