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Running Time:
2 hours, 35 minutes

Rating: Unrated

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
This is a hypnotizing experience that will grip you for 2 1/2 hours, and stay with you long after you've left the theater.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: Making of Downfall featurette; Cast & crew interviews; Director commentary.

It will be 60 years on the 30th of April 2005, the date of the suicide of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun in a bunker under the Chancellery in Berlin. In his magnificent film, director Oliver Hirschbiegel manages to depict the human side of the Führer (Bruno Ganz), as well as his fanaticism. The film details the last 12 days of Hitler's life and those who were in the bunker with him until his death. We experience the claustrophobia and oppressiveness if not the doom and denial of the hysteria in the bunker. The film is mostly based on the memoirs of Hitler’s stenographer Traudl Junge. At the film’s start, she is one of five young women secreted into Hitler’s headquarters in Eastern Prussia, where she was greeted warmly and courteously by the very formal Führer. Despite being overwhelmed by nerves during her typing test, she gets the job. A postscript after the film states that at her trial she was adjudged a ‘young follower’ and not a perpetrator of any war crimes. The acting is throughout is exceptional. Bruno Ganz’ Hitler unravels stiffly and believably throughout the film, and each character is heightened by the extreme situation. Among the many outstanding performances, are the gaunt, black-eyed intensity of Ulrich Matthes as Joseph Goebbels, and Corinna Harfouch as his wife Magda, who states that life without National Socialism would be unbearable, and unbelievably goes on to calmly sedate each of her six children, one by one as they sleep, and crushes cyanide capsules between their teeth. There are depictions of extraordinary bravery as well as dissolute cowardice and self-serving betrayal – as with the debauched Herman Fegelein (Thomas Krestchmann), Eva Braun’s brother-in-law and the traitor Himmler’s second-in-command (Ulrich Noethen). At the end of the film there are captioned epilogues on each of the major perpetrators – their captures or suicides, their trials and terms of imprisonment or executions. The feeling of this film is of an historical event so gravely significant that it must be told, and told with a relentless adherence to truth in order to expunge the past and give insight for the future. After the film’s credits a brief clip of a 2003 interview with Traudl shows her saying that she cannot reconcile the terror of what happened with her own past, and though she was judged innocent, she feels she is guilty of not wanting to know what was going on outside her secretarial duties to the Führer. Nor, presumably, what were the implications and import of some of the correspondence she transcribed.

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