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Downfall (2004)

“Downfall” (2004) on IMDb
Rating: 5/5
“Downfall” (2004) movie poster

For the most part this movie takes place in a bunker under Berlin. That may not sound very interesting, but I was positively surprised and really drawn in by it.

Downfall feels incredibly realistic and is probably as close as you can come to the events that took place in Hitler’s bunker at the end of World War II. There are some disturbing scenes, but none of them are in the movie for the sake of being disturbing; the scenes fit in the context of the storyline. One particularly repugnant scene involves a mother (Magda Goebbels), her children, and cyanide capsules; the reasoning that precedes it is as disturbing as the act itself.

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Bruno Ganz is excellent as Adolf Hitler, and the rest of the cast is also superb. The movie has been criticized for humanizing Hitler, but I don’t regard that as a problem. Hitler and his followers were human beings with emotions and other human complexities, and in my opinion it is very important to show this, despite—or perhaps because of—the terrible atrocities they committed.

Downfall is an important and powerful movie that I consider to be on par with Schindler’s List, The Pianist, and Hotel Rwanda. The movie stayed in my thoughts long after it had ended.

(Original title: Der Untergang.)