• James Rutherford

'Downfall': A Visceral German Drama Depicting the Final Days for Hitler and the Third Reich


Movie poster for the German film Downfall starring Bruno Ganz

“Downfall” (“Der Untergang”) is a tense and penetrating German drama set in Berlin circa 1942 and focused on a despondent Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) during the waning days of World War II, as the Battle of Berlin rages and the Red Army has surrounded the capital city.


As Soviet forces fiercely bombard Berlin, Heinrich Himmler (Ulrich Noethen) and Hermann Fegelein (Thomas Kretschmann) both urge the Führer to flee before succumbing to the enemy’s onslaught, yet Hitler insists that he and the entire 9th Army will prevail or perish on Berlin soil. Holed up within the Führerbunker air raid complex, desperation reigns as his top generals betray him and last-minute attempts to salvage the Third Reich crumble—leaving Hitler and Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler) to face the stark reality of the Nazi Party’s ultimate demise.


Directed by German filmmaker Oliver Hirschbiegel (“The Experiment”, “Five Minutes of Heaven”), “Downfall” is a stunningly immersive experience, delivering finely-researched historical accuracy to a place-in-time long shrouded in mystery and conjecture. Ganz delivers the performance of a lifetime in a role wrought with visceral shades of fury and dread, bringing fascinating insight to a historical personage of such profoundly ill repute. It’s unflinching and mesmerizing storytelling, and one of the very best international films of the 21st Century.

 

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