Downfall (Der Untergang)

2004

Downfall (Der Untergang)

Critics Consensus

Downfall is an illuminating, thoughtful and detailed account of Hitler's last days.

90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 139

94%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 70,326
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Downfall (Der Untergang) Photos

Movie Info

In the dead of a November night in 1942, SS officers through the woods escort a group of young women to Wolf's Lair, Hitler's headquarters in Eastern Prussia. They are candidates for the post of personal secretary to the Fuehrer. Among them is 22-year-old Traudl Junge, a fresh-faced girl from Munich. Traudl is chosen for the job and she is overcome with joy at the thought of serving beside her Fuehrer. BERLIN, APRIL 20, 1945: Hitler has retreated to a bunker system under the German Chancellery. Traudl Junge is asleep in her room, deep beneath the ground. She is awakened by tremors from artillery fire. The enemy is getting closer. Charting the last 10 days of Hitler's life, from his 56th birthday on April 20th, 1945 to his suicide on April 30th, the film uses multiple characters to show the chaos of a country coming apart at the seams, from Hitler's henchman under the streets of Berlin, to the soldiers and civilians fighting and dying as the Soviet Army ravaged the city above.

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Cast

Bruno Ganz
as Adolf Hitler
Corinna Harfouch
as Magda Goebbels
Ulrich Matthes
as Joseph Goebbels
Juliane Köhler
as Eva Braun
Heino Ferch
as Albert Speer
Christian Berkel
as Prof. Dr. Ernst-Günter Schenck
Matthias Habich
as Prof. Dr. Werner Haase
Thomas Kretschmann
as SS-Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein
Michael Mendl
as General der Artillerie Helmuth Weidling
André Hennicke
as SS-Brigadeführer Wilhelm Mohnke
Donevan Gunia
as Peter, the Hitler Youth kid
Ulrich Noethen
as Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler
Birgit Minichmayr
as Gerda Christian
Justus von Dohnányi
as Wilhelm Burgdorf
Dieter Mann
as Generalfeldmarschall
Christian Redl
as Generaloberst
Götz Otto
as Sturmbannführer
Thomas Limpinsel
as Heinz Linge
Thomas Thieme
as Reichsleiter
Gerald Alexander Held
as Walther Hewel
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News & Interviews for Downfall (Der Untergang)

Critic Reviews for Downfall (Der Untergang)

All Critics (139) | Top Critics (34)

  • Does Downfall "humanize" Hitler and his henchmen, as its critics have complained? Yes, and it should: to pretend these villains were less than human is to let ourselves off the hook, to take the easy and dangerous exit of demonology.

    Jan 22, 2013 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • May be the definitive account of Hitler's final days and the collapse of the Third Reich.

    Apr 8, 2005 | Rating: 4/5
  • With a steely, unblinking resolve, Downfall stares into the abyss, but does not pretend to comprehend it.

    Apr 1, 2005 | Rating: 3/4
  • Viewed through a North American lens, the movie itself seems more familiar than fascinating, more innocuous than inflammatory, and, at 21/2 hours, more tedious than anything else.

    Mar 18, 2005 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • For emotional effect it trades less in the spectacle of ebbing power than the tragedy of power's mysterious thrall.

    Mar 18, 2005 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Hirschbiegel and Ganz are not apologizing for Nazism. They are trying to come to terms with the fact that the evils of Nazism were invented and carried out by human beings.

    Mar 17, 2005 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Downfall (Der Untergang)

  • Jul 30, 2013
    An incredibly powerful World War II epic, Downfall is a German war drama about the final days of the Third Reich. Partially based on the biography of Traudl Junge (Adolf Hitler's personal secretary), the story follows the events of the Battle of Berlin as the Russian Army lays seize and Hitler and the Nazi high command face inevitable defeat. The performances are also especially good; particularly Bruno Ganz, who gives an exceptionally compelling and humanizing depiction of Hitler. And, the directing of Oliver Hirschbiegel adds an extraordinary level of realism that's quite engrossing. Downfall presents a fascinating historical look into the Nazi regime, and at how they chose to face their defeat at the end of the war.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • May 26, 2013
    Immersive, riveting, brilliantly acted, and tragic, Downfall is an amazing German film, depicting the last ten days of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. At 2.5 hours long, the film manages to give the viewer an insightful look at the inner workings and utter chaos of those last days. Undoubtedly one of the most remarkable things about Downfall are the performances. Bruno Ganz as Hitler was simply brilliant, showing a man profoundly troubled, tragically devoted, crazed, manic, but yet not without some hint of humanity. Ganz's intensity on screen is riveting, inhibiting his character to such an extent, one may draw a parallel between the performance of Daniel Day-Lewis and his depiction of Lincoln, in its depth and nuance. The supporting cast is impressive as well, with each character feeling well realized and completely authentic. It is through their performances that we see the true complexity of the Nazi regime, filled with the dedicated, the opportunistic, the evil, and those desperately looking for direction. We see their growing anxiety, and the tragic hopelessness of their fate. The film does an amazing job of serving as an effective character study of the players involved, namely Hitler, while at the same time working as an effective drama of the surrounding events. We see the chaos amidst the inevitable military defeat, the growing dissension, and the horrendous extent of murder left in its wake. It never ceases to both engage and inform the viewer, making it a resounding success. A brilliant war film. 4.5/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • May 20, 2013
    A very interesting look at an oft-over-reviewed subject.
    Christian C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2013
    The intelligence of a German Shepherd, as energetic as a Boxer, as different as a Dachshund, with the bite of a Rottweiler. Downfall shows the last days of Hitler and the Battle of Berlin. Mostly through the eyes of Traudl Junge (Hitler's Secretary). We see the desperation in the Führerbunker and the ever so slightly mad Adolf commanding armies that only exist in his mind. The first thing that hit me with this film was just how real it feels. It's not like watching a movie with make-up, actors, wardrobe, sets, etc. You feel as though you are actually there, as it happens. It is totally believable. Many actors have played Hitler over the years. But not one of the them, including Guinness and Anthony Hopkins come anywhere near to Bruno Ganz in this movie. It is the best screen performance of Adolf Hitler since The Triumph of the Will. His tone, actions and expressions seem spookily accurate. It is an amazing impersonation. After 70 years the characters have been built into "evil legends" for some and forgotten completely by others. For me a major advantage of this film is how "human" the characters are. The movie makes the statement that the major and heinous atrocities of World War II were not committed by monsters, but by Human Beings, real people, flesh and blood. This is a "powerhouse" of a film, that offers different perspectives, realism and poses some serious questions. I consider this movie a masterpiece and one of the best war movies ever. Film Score: 5 / 5 Simon's Review Having seen this movie before, I couldn't wait to watch it again. A truly remarkable and as far as I can tell, accurate account of the last days of the Third Reich. All through the film, the inevitability of the soviets getting through Berlin keeps the tension throughout. It's quite shocking in a lot of ways, all the suicides, the mum poisoning her own kids and taking her own life. Also the kid soldiers, some of whom die. All in all a gripping movie. Well acted.
    James C Super Reviewer

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