Untergang, Der / Downfall (15)
Dir. Oliver Hirschbiegel
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
“Be ruthless. Life doesn't forgive weakness. This so-called humanity is religious drivel. Compassion is an eternal sin. To feel compassion for the weak is a betrayal of nature. The strong can only triumph if the weak are exterminated. Being loyal to this law, I've never had compassion.” Adolf Hitler…
Downfall eh? That nail biting game of skill and chance, the turning of those dials, the sweaty palmed fear that you might inadvertently be aiding your opponent get his or her yellow counters down to the ‘win’ pile before you? Who’d have thought that it would become the subject of such a riveting film? Oh wait a minute…
Director Oliver Hirschbiegel has made something a bit special here: A disturbing and butt clenching recreation of the final days of Hitler and his not so merry men in their besieged Berlin bunker. Based on the book by Joachim Fest, "Inside Hitler's Bunker", and the memoirs of one of Hitler's secretaries, Traudl Junge, Downfall is a film that everybody on the planet should see at least once.
The acting is outstanding and the sense of composite evil drips from the screen – never more so than in Corinna ‘soon to be seen in Perfume’ Harfouch’s depiction of Magda Goebbels whose clinical extermination of her own children is gut wrenching to behold.
Of course you can’t blame Hitler for being driven out of his mind – it might even have been when he heard that it was me directing the Allied forces against him that was the last straw… Loving Company of Heroes as I am – it is without doubt the best Real Time Strategy Game (RTS) on the PC to date I’m taking France back at such a swift and decisive rate that any crazed world dictator would be scared (although you can challenge me online if you think you want a shot at someone who once made it to the global top 20 commanders in the Command & Conquer Generals rankings)…
Sorry about that – back to the film - what else can I say? Downfall is a brilliantly realised smorgasbord of characters that each add to the impending sense of totalitarian doom that crushes the Nazis even as the red fist of the Russian advance begins to bite right on their doorstep.
As the leaders of the Nazi war machine come apart in various ways we get to see it all in brutal close up, so close you can almost smell their fear, panic and madness… Never forget – you couldn’t make this up – this happened and it needs to be remembered.
Darkmatters rating system (out of 5):
Action öööö - battle realism and unflinching depictions of valour
Laughs öö – some light hearted moments but not many
Horror öööö – very grim in parts, some scenes will stay with you
Babes öö – German totty but nothing worth locking yourself in a bunker for
Overall öööö1/2 ( a necessary masterpiece in so many ways)
"I'm sorry love, but you are a vicious deluded monster - so it's for the best..."