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Downfall
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Downfall – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

This tells the story of the downfall of Hitler (Ganz) – his last few days in his Berlin bunker, as the Russians closed in and the war and his life drew to a close.
Through the eyes of his secretary, Traudl Junge (Lara) we see the ailing Führer losing control of everything but his most faithful followers, while trying to maintain an air of authority and his dignity.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

There’s no doubt that it’s an interesting film, taking us inside the minds of Hitler’s faithful, showing us how it was that one man could be so magnetic that such vile ideas were revered to the extent that otherwise reasonable and intelligent people chose death over living in a world without them.
It’s unusual to see Hitler given a human side, and Ganz’s portrayal of a veritable Jekyll and Hyde is riveting.
While telling the story almost entirely from within the bunker gives it an effectively claustrophobic feel, somehow, it makes it feel less like a real war film. We don’t see any fighting, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s certainly a departure.
But somehow, its length, slow pace, overabundance of unexplained characters (a problem for anyone not intimately familiar with all the intricacies of Hitler’s advisors), a lack of genuine action and the fact that we all know how it ends before it starts, means that there’s little real emotional involvement for the viewer.
This makes it a long, difficult watch, with little reward; we don’t even really learn anything new. You feel that if you really want to understand the events leading to the downfall of the Third Reich, you’d be better off watching a documentary.

Opens nationwide on 1st April 2005

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