• Downfall
    2 minutes 5 seconds
    Added: May 9, 2008


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Downfall (Der Untergang) Reviews

Page 1 of 258

Super Reviewer

May 11, 2007
Based on true life memoirs of people who were actually there, this starkly gripping depiction of the last days of the third reich can hardly be described as an enjoyable experience. The german people are suffering terrible hardship as the attacking Russian forces reach Berlin while Hitler's cowardly henchmen are attempting to make their escape or plotting the murder/suicides of themselves and their families when faced with the consequences of their monstrous actions. Lynch mobs roam the streets dispensing "justice" against suspected traitors (who in Hitler's deranged eyes seemed to include virtually everyone) and ill-equipped professional german soldiers are ordered to fight to the death in the face of certain defeat. The entire cast of the film are superb, but it is Bruno Ganz's remarkable performance that is the centrepiece of the film. His portrayal of Hitler veering between twitching broken shell and wild-eyed delusional maniac (who even at the end still commanded fanatical belief in him from some of his people) is totally convincing. It is still difficult to fully comprehend what you are seeing even as it happens in front of your eyes and I was left feeling shellshocked at the film's end;.possibly the most important film made about WWII and something everyone simply must see.
Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

July 12, 2012
That this, the most accessible, most illuminating film about the end of the Third Reich and the last days of Adolph Hitler, comes from Germany ... well, its mind-boggling. Ganz's performance is soul searing and no one in the piece deserts the high standards he sets. There are no false moments to be found here. A masterwork. A revelation.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

May 21, 2012
Downfall is probably one of the greatest war films ever made, not just because the acting and directing are sublime but because most importantly it is factual and unglorified like many 'classics' of the genres. Most war films have that one special scene that it is remembered for, Downfall has many. For me it was the eerie honesty displayed in real footage of the since passed Traudl Junge, who offers no good reason as to why she stayed and supported Hitler and of course the scene everyone who was familiar with the story was dreading that involved the Goebbels children. Indeed, Ulrich Matthes's portrayal of Joseph Goebbels is subtly just as frightening as Bruno Ganz's Adolf. A fantastic and tasteful historical document made the way all factual war films should be made.
Jan Marc M

Super Reviewer

September 10, 2011
Downfall is a true portrayal of the last days of a "human" Adolf Hitler along with the death of a social-political ideology in striking detail. An intimate encounter with history that made me understand that commitment to an ideology is deeply founded on personal absolute truths, realities, and beliefs. Important.

Super Reviewer

May 12, 2011
This is not the first film to capture the final days of Hitler and the Third Reich, but it is the only one I have seen, and it is some kind of masterpiece. What seems most amazing to me is that this is a German/Austrian film production. I say this because it is understandable and not surprising that this is (still) a very sensitive subject for them. This film does some incredible things, among them, breaking one of the final taboos for them, which is having an actor portraying Hitler instead of using stock footage of the real man.

This film doesn't humanize Hitler, because well, he was already human, but it does not make you sympathetic to him, and you won't be finding yourself being a fan of him either. It does present him as well-rounded and multi-dimensial though. There is one scene (but only one) where he seems almost really kind and grandfatherly, but it is well-played. The rest of the film shows him as he truly likely was: feeble, riddled with Parkinson's, deranged, sickly, and patheticallly trying to hold on to something he knows is lost, but can't bring himself to give up.

This is a very fascinating and absorbing film. It helps that they used several books (memoirs and biographies), and at least one historical monograph as the basis for the screenplay and as a guide for the sets, costumes, and characterizations. This works extremely well as both cinematic art and as dramatized history.

The casting and the performances are absolutely brilliant. The actors bear striking resemblances to the people they are portraying, and their performances are frighteningly mesmerizing. Ganz pretty much owns the picture as Hitler. I've seen him in other movies, but this is by far his best and most challenging work. Alexandra Maria Lara is also terrific as Hitler's secretary Traudl Junge, and the two people who play Herr and Frau Goebbels are also quite excellent, but the whole cast is. These are just my favorites.

This film is unglamorous and totally captivating. Even though it came out in 2004, it still provokes strong reactions and debates. This is a sign that the filn is a success. My only real complaint is that the film doesn't really delve into the atrocities, and that it doesn't touch upon the last days from the point of view of civilians very much. Apparently the latter gets covered more and better in the extended cut of the film, but still, you could make an entire movie over that subject, and I'd really like to see that. But I'm a social historian, so of course I would.

Okay, here's the deal. This is not a film where you really care about the characters, but you're not really meant to either. Maybe Tradl Junge a bit, though. This film is just an insightful look into the final days of a crumbling empire (a fascinating broad topic, made more fascinating due to which empire is being focused on). The film was designed to illicit all kinds of reactions, and succeeds. It is as objective as best it can be, and is really quite sensible with how things are handled. It's also just an excellently crafted picture, and the mise-en-scene is top notch.

Definitely give this a watch.

Super Reviewer

April 9, 2011
Grade: B (84%)

What do we known about Adolf Hitler? He killed Jews for no reason, and tried to conquer Europe. But what happened to Hitler in the end? This is where Downfall comes in to fill in the gap.

Downfall shows Hitler's last ten days of leadership before committing suicide. In this time period, we find out that his loyal generals and high ranks have betrayed him and left their posts when they weren't supposed to. The movie is set in Berlin where Hitler refuses to leave. This bunker is constantly attacked by Russian artillery and the troops are closing in on his position. Hitler decides not to surrender and tries constantly to make up new plans to bring Germany back into winning this war. So many attempts come and fail him in this film that you almost feel sad for him. Then you hear him speak and its horrifying.

Downfall truly shows the good and bad sides of Hitler. He calls everyone traitors but allows them to leave (some of them).

Downfall is a good movie that is a little long for this type of film. Though it you are interested in Hitler's final days of leader of Germany, go see it. It's not a violent as I thought it would be but a great film that documents that Hitler saw his loss coming days before his death.

Super Reviewer

November 25, 2008
"Being young is not an excuse." - Traudl Junge

Did Hitler have a reality distortion field?

The movie shows the last days of Hitler in his Bunker in Berlin, so dont expect a lot of gunfighting & action. Too many characters revolving around the scenes but still easy to follow.

The books from which this movie was based on were all German authors, it was also directed, produced and written by Germans.

Of all the German/Nazi/Hitler movies/documentaries Ive seen (thats not made in Holywood) this has been the most neutral (if not toned down) but also the most boring in terms of entertainment value.

Good to watch for educational purposes.

Is it good for a collectable? Cant really say, perhaps only for those who have an extreme fetish and are extremely invested in completing a Hitler & Nazi Germany Historical collection.

Personally, I dont really feel the need to collect it. I think watching this once is enough.

Next on the hunt list: Das Boot & Education for Death
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

April 19, 2008
An important and grim film about the final days of the Third Reich within Hitler's bunker. The complexities of Hitler's character, complete in its brutality and humanity, are eerily realized in Bruno Ganz's performance. The power of this film is its historical accuracy, the varied fates of the leaders and followers, and the realization that youth is no excuse for lack of political awareness.
Daniel P

Super Reviewer

January 11, 2008
Brave, epic film-making. Hitler was a man, even if he was a monster, and Downfall shows us a human face to the 20th Century's biggest villain. Some would argue that just making this film puts the great dictator up on a pedestal, but at the same time, it's a story worth telling: what would these last days be like?

That being said, I found that the film fell into "historical drama by-the-numbers" territory sometimes. Much like Titanic, no matter how good it might be, you know how it ends, and you're racing there in your mind... even if the film is 2.5 hours long.

The acting is great, and the framing device - using the secretary's perspective to tell the story - was brilliant, and qualified the film in such a way that it could at least shoot back at its detractors. Not as exciting as I might have liked though: maybe because of the many, many parodies of the film's best scene now floating around YouTube.

Super Reviewer

July 9, 2010
Der Untergang is a terrific look at the last ten days of Adolph Hitler. This a well acted, and directed drama / war film with a great cast. A brilliant and dramatic film der untergang is a film about the fall of Hitler's Third Reich, and what makes this film such a powerful viewing is that its a film film told by Germans. Bruno Ganz is superb in the role of Adolph Hitler, and he truly brings the man alive in his portrayal. What makes Downfall such a unique viewing experience is that it tells the story on Hitler's side of things, something that most film studios never gave too much attention to. Here we get a film about a once powerful man whos quickly losing the war and he's losing his mind. Downfall doesn't sympathize with Hitler, it just gives a harrowing, and disturbing look into his failed final days.

Super Reviewer

December 17, 2008
"April 1945, a nation awaits its..."

Traudl Junge, the final secretary for Adolf Hitler, tells of the Nazi dictator's final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII.

"Downfall" takes you into Hitler's bunker during the fall of the third Reich and the last ten days of the battle for Berlin. This historical docudrama spends its time examining one of history's most enigmatic and inscrutable dictators as he descend into paranoia to the bewilderment of his inner circle and, in particular, one young woman stenographer who, in real life, survived the war and published her memoirs providing one of the few historical records of that time and place. The film is well done as a stand alone dramatic presentation. However, it excels as an historical drama by providing insights into Hitler's last days; something never dealt with in such detail before in film. An engrossing 2.5 hour watch with a splendid performance by Bruno Ganz as Hitler. Who better to make such a film than the Germans?
Dan S

Super Reviewer

July 7, 2007
An incredible achievement in film-making. A relentlessly bleak, intensely gripping, powerfully discouraging movie in which the diseased mind of Hitler, as well as the people he infects with his hate and false sense of pride, is dissected expertly. It takes a strong, courageous actor to play Adolf Hitler, and Swiss actor Bruno Ganz (who really deserved an Oscar for this incredible portrayal) is that actor - he is simply phenomenal. The first hour and a half builds up to a dramatic, inevitable moment. This moment is punctuated coldly and robotically, and it's just amazing to see how Hitler's supporters literally followed him to the grave, even when it made next to no sense. The last hour is powerful stuff, I won't even begin to describe it, but it's a depressing and hard-hitting one that slams into it's audience with resolute force. To put it simply, this is a film I will never forget, and one that should be viewed by anyone that is interested in Hitler or world history.
Tim S

Super Reviewer

May 21, 2009
Great film on every level. The acting, cinematography, and the writing are all really well done. I know a lot of people have come out against this movie because it shows a humanistic side to Hitler. And while it does show him in a different light, it's not like the movie wants the audience to agree with him. He is still bat shit crazy. The most fascinating thing is the downfall of the Nazi empire itself. It's gripping to watch these people lose the war and realize that everything that they have fought for is bullshit (even sadder to watch those who still believed in the bullshit). I do think the film went on a little too long towards the end, but was still riveted throughout. I highly recommend this film, even if the last thing you want to see is another film about Nazi's.

Super Reviewer

January 8, 2009
Powerfully dramatic. An important and significant film, not only because it's a true story that needed to be told but also because it was told by Germans. If this had been a Hollywood production with Hollywood stars it would not have had the impact that it has had.
Chris G

Super Reviewer

January 19, 2009
Downfall takes us back to those glorious days of April and May of 1945 when we were about to declare victory in Europe. Let's kiss a girl in Times Square because the German's are toast! We all remember those images. For an American, watching Downfall is the negative side of V-E day celebrations. The film is about the final few weeks of the Third Reich as seen by on of Adolf Hitler's secretaries (Alexanda Maria Lara).

When going into Downfall you expect your basic last days of Hitler in his bunker story, but even though Hitler is the main focus of the film it digs deeper than that concrete tomb and examines what life was like for civillains and the military establishment in those final days in berlin as the Russians knocked on the Eastern door. Bruno Ganz plays Hitler in a way that's never been seen before. He isn't just the crazed mad man in the ground. He's not a split person, he's totally shattered by the faltering Reich and Ganz makes the audience feel something for his subject that probably has never been expressed in a film featuring Hitler- sympathy. There are a few moments when you actually sympathize for Adolf Hitler, though they are few and he usually does something to eliminate that feeling rather quickly. That's a true accomplishment in Ganz portrayal of the Fuhrer making it the role of his career.

What's amazing is the way that even in the end there was still a split between following the orders of no surrender and realizing that this is the end and the need to save themselves and the city of Berlin. Many fall on the sword in this one and shows the extreme views of Nazi Germany.

This is a well acted, directed, and written piece of cinema. Downfall can stand as a testament to the evil that men do and how stubborn they can be when they realize they were wrong. They all realize they're wrong. In the end it's a decision of whether pride is going to let them keep on living.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

January 16, 2009
A brilliantly constructed tale of a powerful man's final days. Ganz offers depth and humanity to a role that could have gone horribly wrong. His accent, his mannerisms, all are handled with with care and attention. It's haunting to see Hitler fighting for what he believes in and is surprisingly saddening. Other moments are truly unforgettable, such as the Goebel children's death scene. The film is very precise and doesn't venture out of the bunker unless absolutely necessary. This keeps a film that deals with an event to change the world very personal.
Daniel H

Super Reviewer

January 15, 2009
Downfall breaks many taboos, primarily the act of "humanizing" one of the most hated mass-murderers of the past century... in a fashion.

Downfall tackles its subject with such deft accuracy that it defuses the hyperbole of its subject matter. Leave the tensions, preconceptions and intense emotions that come with Hitler at the door... and you will find the film reconstructs for you the exact same emotions of hatred, only now with a razor-sharp subtlety and justification that does credit to the complexity and utter horror that hangs like a pall over this moment in history.

This is a nuanced (but by no means insignificant or easily accomplished) feat that one rarely sees in a historical drama: accuracy that reigns in hyperbole, and redirects it into a historic context that allows you to both revile its protagonist, while uncomfortably understanding his motives.

To say this films power lies in its subject matter does it a discredit: it is a result of extraordinary directing and acting.

Super Reviewer

June 12, 2008
Bruno Ganz (Klaus Kinski's favorite actor, notice how I roll my eyes at that comment) is dead-on as Hitler in this, which chronicles the last days as Russia is about to put the final nail in the coffin of Nazi Germany. If suicide turns you off, then avoid this as everything takes a backseat to Nazi pride. Officers are shooting themselves left and right in this; nothing is held back. The greatest war movie I have ever seen - believe it!
Lanning :

Super Reviewer

August 9, 2007
If you didn't already have enough reasons to despise Adolf Hitler and his gang of murderous maniacs, this will provide ample examples. Excellent acting all around, and Bruno Ganz has been rightly praised for the power of his performance. This film vividly brings to life a sweepingly grotesque glimpse of some of the most horribly sick-minded SOBs ever to waste oxygen. If for no other purpose, this is a must see in order to remember that this kind of Nazi stupidity must never happen again.
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