Downfall Top 20 Movies #3

Downfall   2004    Dir: Oliver Hirschbiegel

“ Greatness isn’t the lack of imperfection, Greatness is when it taps into something essential to us , and it is at the heart of who we are”

I have already documented on this site as to my fascination with World War 2. How it really was the last time a whole world stood one side against the other and fought. How if that War had gone the other way how different all of our lives would have been.

I spent my youth fascinated with my German heritage. And I’ve spent my adult life researching the war from all sides. I find film that shows what life was like in all the countries involved during the war to be fascinating to see.

And then along came this film. And it leaped into my top 5.

Told from the perspective of Hitler’s secretary, This is a look at the last days of Hitler and the last days of the Reich from the bunker underneath Berlin. This film hits on so many different levels for me.

Start with the fact that the filmmakers wanted to make a film that showed The Germans as ordinary people who did monstrous things. Unlike a lot of previous films that made them out to be almost cartoon characters. This film is made by Germans for the German market. It was very controversial.

Next up is the fact that, as to me anyway, the actors were all unknowns. It was not as if seeing an actor I knew playing a part. And they did a great job finding actors that at least resembled the characters they were playing. This had a feel as I watched that I was “there”.

Third, Bruno Ganz did an amazing job as Adolf Hitler. He fit into the role perfectly, showing both his human side as well as his crazed side. The scenes with him ranting have been seen and used in more parodies on You Tube than any other film that comes to mind. He goes from sweet scenes with his secretary to rants at his Generals moving troops that no longer existed.

Watching as the days pass and Berlin slowly succumbs to the oncoming Russians and how the local population reacted and survived, and to watch as the soldiers coped knowing the end was coming.
Seeing the last days of the Reich.

I have watched this film at least 15 times. Yet I always have to skip one of the most powerful scenes ever put to film. The re-enactment as to what happened to the Goebbels children. This was so hard to watch. Being a parent it absolutely ripped my heart out. But it illustrated perfectly just how far human decency had disappeared from these people.

This was my life long interest and fascination come to life. I sit mesmerized watching this each time. It is I feel the very best historical recreation ever put to film. And should be required viewing in all History classes.

An amazing achievement.

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