Downfall is a 2004 German drama set in the timeline of the Second World War, specifically the end of it. The movie chronicles the final days of Adolf Hitler and those closest to him, Eva Braun, Himmler, Goebbels, the works.
The story starts off in mid-1942 with the appointment of Traudl Junge as Hitler’s secretary. The plot is conveyed to the viewer through the eyes of the young lady (she’s 22 at the time of appointment). It takes us through the tumultuous final ten days of war in Germany, with the Soviets pushed all the way up to Berlin. As was the case then, many were of the opinion that the war was lost, and that the Fuhrer should either retreat from Berlin to spare further loss of life and destruction of the capital, or failing that, should discuss terms of surrender with the Allies. And of course, neither of these courses is taken by Hitler, who instead chooses to fight the Allies to the bitter end. Upon hearing this announcement, most of his major officers begin to defect to the Allies, and those who are beyond any hope of pardon from the Allies, make preparations to sneak by the enemy unnoticed (read : Himmler).
The movie highlights the essence of the horrors of war in a no-holds-barred manner, and is especially good at capturing the Fuhrer’s emotional turmoil upon hearing of his officers’ defection. All this, viewed through the lens of Junge, makes the film a poignant watch, and for the first time I’ve seen Hitler being portrayed as a real man, and not someone who has been reduced to a barrage of evil deeds he has committed, and for that alone Downfall is worth watching. Also, the effects the war has on the fanatical Nazis is clearly shown in the movie, most notably the Goebbels family interactions.
The Goebbels family…in happier(?) times
The plot is good, and the subject has been dealt with extremely well. The atmosphere of the movie, the one of tense expectance, holds up throughout the runtime of the film. And kudos to the acting department, because they were awesome all of them. Bruno Ganz, playing the Fuhrer, plays him to perfection, and the emotional outbursts are truly disturbing. Trundl Junge, played by Alexandra Maria Lara, is portrayed realistically as well. But the one who really steals the show, is Corinna Harfouch, who plays Magda Goebbels in the film. Her role as the fanatic Nazi supporter of Adolf is truly the highlight of the film, and her acting is disturbingly captivating.
The only negative thing about the movie is all the suicides throughout. Towards the end of the film, some of these suicides take on a comical quality due to the frequency, and me and my friend who watched the film with me, had a hard time trying to not make fun of all the suicides. But all-in-all, a great example of German cinema.
RATING : 8.2/10
– tense atmosphere throughout
– the German viewpoint
– too many suicides(but well, it was unavoidable) make it unintentionally funny in places