Review: Downfall (2005)

If there is one thing that all students around the world learn is that Adolf Hitler was a horrible man. We learn about his hatreds and all the chaos he caused. Also, every once in a while we hear that he killed himself in his underground bunker near the end of World War II. Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall tells the story of what happened in that underground bunker near the end of WWII

There are three resons why I like this movie so much, the first is that prior to the release of the this film I had never heard about the underground bunker and Hitler’s suicide. Sure, I had seen something similar to that in “Family Guy” but that doesn’t really count. It was such an interesting story. Second, Bruno Ganz’s performance. This performance is the stuff of legends. I’m usually not a fan of actors impersonating historical figures, but this is different. Ganz shows a side of the monsters most people have not heard of. There are still those rage outbreaks every once in a while, but for most of the movie we see an almost-human Hitler. One who cares about his closest friends, shows some fear, and loves his woman. He was still a monster, but Ganz almost makes you simpathize with him. The rest of the supporting cast is great as well, but Ganz is just unbelievable.

The last thing that made me love it was Hirschbiegel’s direction. Although I wouldn’t say that the story is thriller material, he truly does turn it into one. The way he made the camera move through the narrow halls of the bunker gave me a feelings of Claustrophobia. Also, by cutting to what has happening outside the bunker he gave us more historical insight to place ourselves in that time period. Also, the final sucide scene is one of the greatest endings I’ve ever seen. Then the interview with Hitler’s real-life secretary (the one we follow throughout most of the film) packed an emotional punch that left me thinking about the movie for days.

Downfall is one of the best movies about WWII I’ve ever seen. By taking the story outside the battlefields, the filmmakers’s have given the audience an insight into other things that happened during that time. Thanks to the story, Bruno Ganz’s performance, and excellent direction, we now have a movie that should be requiered viewing for those who study WWII.

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