Downfall - The Film - Sober, chilling history

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Downfall - The Film - Sober, chilling history

Post by FrankAderholdt » Thu Mar 31, 2005 8:13 pm

My wife and I saw the movie Downfall in New Orleans last Saturday. It's in "limited release," which usually means you'll drive a long way to see it.

This German-language film with English subtitles is devastating. It's one of the very few movies I've ever attended where the audience said nothing as they walked out. Everyone seemed stunned by the experience.

Downfall is the story of the final days in Hitler's bunker at the end of WW II, April and May 1945, told with painful realism and gruesome detail. It makes similar movies seem bland and rather silly by comparison. Bruno Ganz, who plays Hitler, is simply astonishing, by turns quiet, explosive, reflective, deluded, maniacal, and utterly insane.

I'll never forget the scene where the wife of Joseph Goebbels systematically murders each of her six children by crushing cyanide capsules between their teeth. (She had previously drugged them into unconsciousness.) She couldn't bear for anyone in her family--including of course her husband and herself--to live in a world without Nazism. There are a dozen or more other images from the film that may never leave me.

You need to see this film. If it does nothing except prevent some of the glib comparsions of people whose policies we don't like with Hitler, it will have done a good service. These matters are too serious and horrific to throw Hitler's name around lightly.
Last edited by FrankAderholdt on Thu Mar 31, 2005 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Ralph » Thu Mar 31, 2005 8:28 pm

This is an extraordinary movie that has packed Film Forum in Greenwich Village for weeks. I haven't gotten around to reviewing it on yet.

Apart from its chillingly gripping reenactment of the Fuhrer's last days in Berlin, it's a milestone for German filmmaking. Based on historian Joachim Fest's book about the End (he also wrote a first-rate biography of Hitler), the director wasn't afraid to show a Hitler who could order summary executions, rant to the end about Jews and yet be a clearly amiable and caring boss to his female staff (but not to his generals).

The movie is also based on his secretary's memoirs which resulted in a documentary, "Hitler's Secretary," which also ought to be seen.

"Downfall" is very gory, a fairly rare example for repeated in-your-face violence that actually causes a visceral response in those not normally affected by silver screen mayhem.

And while nothing was new to me, the scene where Magda Goebbels systematically murders her six innocent children one-by-one for their own good (no future for them in a Germany without National Socialism), made me squirm as a movie rarely does. I almost felt as if I would become ill.

See it if you can!


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