Downfall: Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Chronicle of Hitler, Starring Bruno Ganz in Astounding Performance

Downfall is not the first movie about Hitler or about the last days of Nazism, but it’s certainly the most revelatory. In fact, this seminal film is as much a portrait of a single, mad man, holding on to his principles until the very end, as it is a collective portrait of the decline and demise of an entire regime, ideology, and a way of life,

Director Oliver Hirschbiegel depicts in painstaking detail the day- to-day operation of an entire system and way of thinking–what the philosopher Hannah Arendt has described as “the banality of evil.” What’s admirable about Downfall is that it pays attention to the doing and thinking of dozen of characters, which make the film’s scope epic in the true sense of this term. Spanning three weeks in April 1945, it’s an important cinematic document of the spiritual, emotional, and technical decay and collapse of a mass-destruction machine.

Though almost every scene is important as part of the bigger puzzle, Downfall is the kind of whose emotional power is cumulative. Most of the narrative is set during the last week of the Fuehrer life and its immediate entourage, as spent in a tightly secured bunker in Berlin.

Swiss actor Bruno Ganz gives such an astounding performance as Hitler, one that goes way beyond impersonation and mimicry that it’s hard to imagine the film with any other actor but him. He is surrounded by all the who’s who of German theater and film.

It would be wrong to describe Downfall as a humanistic film, as if it tries to humanize a monster by putting a recognizable face, emotions, and feelings to figure that’ evil incarnate. Instead, director Hirschbiegel takes a more detached, sober, and objective perspective, which lets each individual viewer makes his or her own mind about the truly horror saga onscreen.

The choice of a fast-paced melodrama, one with numerous characters, subplots, and events, makes this two-and-a-half hour movie not only thoughtful and intelligent, but also entertaining and involving in both cerebral and emotional ways. While watching the film, I had chills during a number of scenes.

The film world-premiered at the 2004 Toronto Film Festival to enthusiastic critical response. Then, a week later, it opened in Germany and broke box-office records there. Downfall is the German submission for the foreign-language Oscars, whose final nominees will be announced on January 25; I hope it’s one of the five contenders.

It is almost hard to believe but Downfall, written and produced by vet Bernd Eichinger, this is the first German movie about Hitler since G.W. Pabst’s Der letzte Akt (1956), with legit actor Albin Skoda in the role of Hitler. But the film didn’t have much impact outside of Germany.

For decades afterwards, the feeling was that the public–German and non-German–was not interested in a feature film about Hitler. Nonetheless, released six decades after the fall of Hitler and the end of WWII, Downfall should benefit from renewed intellectual and dramatic interest in the era by scholars, artists, and the lay public as well.

Two years ago, a small, interesting film, Blind Spot, by Austrian director Andre Heller, played the international film festival circuit. The intimately focused documentary consists of interview with Hitler’s secretary, Traudl Junge, who is a major character, possibly the “most humane,” in Downfall.

Bernd Eichinger’s richly dense screenplay is based on Traudl Junge’s published memoir, Until the Final Hour: Hitler’s Last Secretary, along with Third Reich scholar Joachim Fest’s major book, Inside Hitler’s Bunker, which was a best-seller in many countries.

The helmer’s decision to end Downfall with Junge’s real voice and on-camera appearance, not only brings the film to the present, but adds an inside look, showing the evolution (or is it devolution) of German thinking about that era. Junge’s new comments are highly-charged and ambiguous, and should be taken critically with a grain of salt.

For viewers interested in the military-industrial complex and the politics of war, Downfall is an invaluable document bout the inner circles of absolute power, of how fateful decisions are made by a small group of strong-minded men behind closed doors (literally closed in this picture). What the great late sociologist described so well in his seminal study, The Power Elite.

Traudl is both an individual character, with her own sets of beliefs, motivations, and needs, but she is also meant to represent the average German citizen, the non-political, non-office holder, through her ambivalent, ever-shifting relationship with the Fuhrer. This is particularly so in the last days of the regime, when personal survival, namely, whether to stay with Hitler to the bitter end or to leave Berlin, becomes a choice of utmost ideological and personal importance; simply put, it’s a matter of life and death.

Traudl is first seen, in a brief prologue, as a nervous 22-year-old applicant for the job of Hitler’s private secretary in November 1942. She is a celeb-struck innocent, a shy girl (played credibly by Alexandra Maria Lara) who, upon being hired, feels utmost joy–and the privilege just to be close to the Fuhrer.

The main segments of the film chronicle the last ten days of Hitler’s life, from his 56th birthday, on April 20, 1945, to his and Eva’s suicide, on April 30. The director has made a good decision not to end the film with Hitler’s suicide, but to continue the story beyond that, and show how the various personae dealt with the defeat.

Of particular significance in these final chapters are the suicide of Mr. and Mrs. Goebbels and their family. The scenes depicting Mrs. Goebbles’ poisoning her own children, one by one, with some resistance by one of her daughters, are heart-breaking and too painful to watch. But the film also shows a ray of life for some of the characters, such as Traudl, who chose to escape from the city and made it into the Russian-controlled area and beyond.

As expected, Bruno Ganz dominates every scene he is in, whether railing against the poisonous cowardice of Jews, the feebleness of the German people who, in his mind, “deserve their fate,” and the near-daily betrayals, by high-ranking and low-ranking officers, which he simply can’t understand or tolerate. But there are some lovely quiet, touching moments that show Hitler as the bourgeois gentleman, kissing his female employees’ hands, paying a compliment in the midst of a bombing to the cook for a well-cooked dinner, presenting flowers to his mistress Eva Braun, and so on.

It’s ridiculous to engage in a discussion to what extent Ganz brings the humanity out of Hitler, because that’s not the point of the film. What’s more important is that the portrait is truly complex and multi-nuanced, showing Hitler the leader, Hitler the husband (a nice scene depicts his wedding to Eva Braun in the bunker), Hitler the boss, and Hitler the father figure to the many children in the Bunker, who are often forced to play silly games or sing patriotic songs at the worst moments.

The best thing that could be said about Downfall is that it is not a one-man film and, performance-wise, not a one-man show. In this respect, it is far more ambitious and satisfying that previous English-speaking movies about Hitler, such as the 1973 Hitler: The Last Ten Days, with the estimable Alec Guinness. Neither Eichinger’s well-crafted script and realistic dialogue, nor Hirschbiegel’s matter-of-fact direction, call attention to themselves–both serve the story admirably and functionally.

Hence, despite the fact that Hitler’s suicide takes place a whole reel before the film ends, Downfall continues to be suspenseful, emotionally-riveting, and attention-grabbing all the way to its end credits. As soon as one set of characters terminate their lives, or disappear, the narrative picks up the surviving characters and tells the story from their point of view.

A good deal of research went into this well-mounted production, particularly Bernd Lepel’s recreation of the Hitler’s Bunker in a Munich studio. Predominantly gray, with long and dark corridors and huge doors, the setting combines the ambience of cold and efficient military headquarter with the cozier and warmer ambience of a well-decorated household, where people eat, drink, party, dance, and make love.

By keeping its focus narrow, the film captures vividly the everyday life of a community on the verge of extinction, of residents who up to the last moments refuse to believe that they are witnessing the bitter end of a glorious empire.

Space does not permit me to dwell on each of the large gallery of characters and actors, but suffice is to say that there is not a single flawed performance in the entire film. Scenes between Hitler and famous architect Albert Speer (Heino Ferch) are just as intriguing as those between Hitler and his officers, or Hitler and Eva Braun, who somehow comes across as frivolous party girl who did love Hitler. It may be the writer’s intention to use Eva Braun’s domestic scenes as sort of a pause from the more dramatically grave moments.

Outdoor sequences, of random bombing and chaotic street fighting, and ruthless military discipline by German officers against German citizens, are just as grittily depicted as the bunker indoor scenes, which comprise most of the film.

Detailed postscript notes, describing the fate of the main characters, are most interesting from an historical standpoint. Many of the officers who survived went into captivity (by the Russians) and later committed suicide. However, at least a dozen of the protagonists lived a long life, some dying over the past two or three years of old age. Trail Junge herself died in February 2002, shortly after the showing of “Blind Spot” at the Berlin International Film Festival.

In recent years, there have been bad or mediocre films about Hitler, such as the American indie Max (about the young Hitler as a failed artist), the Russian movie Moloch, The Bunker, with Anthony Hopkins, the Robert Carlyle mini-series. However, Downfall is far superior to all of them–and curiously enough, also the most accessible and commercial one (despite its German language).

Offering a riveting look at the two weeks that literally changed the fate of the world, Downfall is a landmark film that benefits from a fresh, contemporaneous, and wide-ranging perspective.

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbetbsport.fitonbet88.oooi9bet.bizhi88.ooookvip.atf8bet.atfb88.cashvn88.cashshbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88