The true account of the last days of Adolf Hitler
as the Russians invaded Berlin at the end of WWII.
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel
Written by Bernd Fest
Starring Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch, Ulrich Matthes, Juliane Köhler, Christian Berkel,
Thomas Kretschmann, Michael Mendl
Based on the books Inside Hitler's Bunker by Joachim Fest
and Until the Final Hour by Traudi Junge
Oscar Nominations - Best Foreign Film
Only the Germans could tell this story right. It's difficult to make a film that humanizes one of history's greatest monsters, but Downfall shows us the final days of Adolf Hitler and how his inner circle slowly turned against him when they realized he was not the infallible leader they believed him to be. As the Russians blow Berlin apart with artillery, the surviving German men and women of Hitler's regime watch as their Fuhrer contemplates suicide and ultimately gives in to fate.
Downfall is told from the perspective of Hitler's personal secretary Traudi Junge, who witnesses his descent into depression firsthand, while the bright future of the Nazis crumbled around them. Without the incredible performance of Bruno Ganz, this film never would have felt as raw and powerful as it did. He gave us the man behind the monster, which I thought was an impossible feat. Frankly, it's astonishing to see the Nazi high command fall apart one by one as they slowly start to realize they cannot win the war. Once that realization finally sets in, the German survivors start to commit atrocious acts of self-preservation and honor, such as poisoning their own children and shooting themselves in the head. In this aspect, Downfall is one of the most realistic depictions of the horrors of war.
This film is an important piece of understanding how World War II ended. Downfall depicts the end of one of the most terrifying eras in human history and carefully crafts a memorable narrative that makes us sympathize with a regime comprised of murderers and heartless dictators. Very few films accomplish this without coming off as heartless themselves. Downfall gives us insight into the ultimate fate of the Nazi survivors and it was surprising to learn just how many of them survived into the early 2000's. The Nazis will always be one of the darkest stains on human history, but this film gives an unbiased look at how their entire autocracy fell completely apart.