12/21/2005

Downfall

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you!

Downfall, wow what can I say, my first foreign language film at a cinema. I must admit the subtitles weren’t too handy right at the bottom of the screen. But I have to say that Downfall is one of the best German films that I have ever seen (this is based on me not actually watching any German films other than Run Lola Run; which is pretty awesome as well… I really need to get hold of some Fritz Lang, my Werner Herzog collection is on the way though)
Just would like to say, that I am reviewing this simply as a film, not of its representation of Germany, Hitler, nor the lack of responsibility that it apparently takes.

So, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel- who also directed Das Experiment (which I was going to buy, but purchased MPD Psycho instead)- Starring Bruno Ganz (Adolf Hitler), Alexandra Maria Lara (Traudl Junge), Corinna Harfouch (Magda Goebbels), Ulrich Matthes- who I thought was really scary looking (Joseph Goebbels) and Juliane Kohler as the always scary Eva Braun.

When I first heard of the film, I had assumed it was about Hitler in his last days, that’s it the end. But I was surprised to find it focused around a young Traudl Junge, who worked as Hitlers secretary during his downfall.
The film begins as a young Traudl Junge is chosen to be Hitler’s secretary. The film captures the tragic figure that Hitler towards the end of his days, believing that the Germans were always going to win the war, even so as his authority is eroded and everyone but himself will acknowledge the fact that they have lost.
As we follow Junge’s life in the heavily fortified underground bunker, we are laid witness to a host of characters, namely the Goebbels, who remain loyal to the Fuhrer to the end, and the very strange case that is Eva Braun.
We are taken to the end of the war, with only a few survivors of Hitlers ranks, running far and fast until only Junge and a young boy (Peter Kranz) ride off into the sunset on a bicycle, in the hopes of finding a ‘better Germany’.

In comment to the actors... in my opinion they were fantastic, Bruno Ganz played the most tragic and heartfelt Hitler I have ever laid witness to (taking into account the only representations of Hitler that I have seen were in Indiana Jones and if you count it; The Great Dictator). Now I’m not a scholar on Hitler, but I must say that I going to guess that he got it right down to the mark. As for Alexandra Maria Lara I must say that she looked a little more wide eyed than I would have liked, but she played the part rather well, although it was difficult to notice her seeing as Ganz stole the show. But there were also some nice performances shown in Speer (Heino Ferch), as well as the Goebbels and many of the other characters whose names I very regretfully cannot remember.

The screenplay was excellent, based around two books on Hitler’s downfall, and from Junge’s narration at the beginning of the film to the very last lines that she speaks are powerfully tragic and amazingly written, the whole film helped along by the screenplay, making it feel as though you were in Berlin at the time.

With such a tragic film its not too hard to guess that all of the great parts would be gut wrenchingly sad. So anyway, onto the good bits:
Firstly the scene where Mrs Goebbel ‘spares’ her children’s lives was awful, such a tragic moment, great as well if you ask me (have to see it for yourself). I only wish I could think of other great points… there was the great scene with Peter and a bunch of other small children firing on the allies. I thought that that was very good, especially when they all died… how morbid do I sound. The deaths and suicides of many others also made good scenes.
There were also some quite memorable spats between Hitler and his generals, having you feel great sympathy for this man who was trying everything that he could to attempt to win the war.

As for bad points.. I do not think I actually have any complaints of the film itself. The screening at my cinema was not too good, but the film was awesome, no whining here my friend (at least none that I can remember).

Overall it was an excellent film, perhaps not for all with its German subtitles.. I remember that my older sister was offered to join us, and she wanted to until she found it was German… a great film to watch if you want to see a lovely tragic piece of cinema, showing Hitler as a frail old man.

Cptalbertwesker Rating – 9/10

Thankfully the matinee showed on the day we had off. And I must admit the experience was pretty awesome, after only paying £3 for the both of us, and sitting amongst hoards of older generations is pretty weird considering I don’t usually see older people in cinemas.
To tell it straight, we were the youngest people in the cinema, two guys looked a couple of years younger, then that was it, the rest of the cinema was packed with older people.

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