Sunday, January 15, 2006


Der Untergang
Constantin Film Produktion
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Length: 155 min.
Format: DVD
Date Viewed: 12 January

The power of Downfall comes in part through its stunning attention to historical accuracy (everything that happens in the film was verified by multiple sources researched in the script phase), and also in part through its ability to show the people left standing as Nazi Germany collapsed around them. Not exaggerated monsters or over-the-top caricatures of evil men and women, but people. Believe it or not, Hitler was good with children, loved his new wife, Eva, treated his secretary with respect and took good care of his dog. Of course, he was an evil mass-murderer and a disastrously inept military commander to boot (clearly evidenced in this film), but everybody has some shred of humanism left in them, and Downfall wisely maintains this realism throughout its runtime. The chaos, the petty struggles for power over a virtually nonexistent state and military, and the shocking decadence shown by the powers that be while the Russians are mortaring them from a couple hundred meters away are extremely fascinating and it is easy to get swept up in the story, though I was happy to have watched it on video, where I could pause and do some quick research on the various players involved in these struggles. Much like Good Night, And Good Luck, the "who's who" is regrettably absent, and only those who have studied the higher-ups of Nazi Germany, 1945 will stay afloat. This is the one true flaw of the film, and it is a big one. The rest of the film is very strong, however, so I can still highly recommend Downfall; just have Google handy while you watch the DVD.


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