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August 25, 2010

Downfall (2004)
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Actors: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Mattes

Synopsis: The fall of Berlin in WW2.

Review: It might seem a ridiculous point to make considering the scope of the movie’s subject matter (the fall of Berlin, the end of the Second World War, the death of Hitler), but the main problem with the movie is its own overblown dramatic sense of itself. It works best as an intimate, intense political drama, detailing the divisions and fractures within the Nazi party and Hitler’s weakening grip on power. It has equal merit as a character essay on Hitler, placing him very credibly in a similar downward arc to that of a classic Shakespearean villain à la Richard III or Macbeth, who though irrefutably evil characters, conveyed a sense of human fragility by the time of their demise. Beyond that, the movie is too simplistic and schematic. The portrayal of the effect of the war on the civilians of Berlin – though an essential story to tell – is too trite and hackneyed, and the attempt to tag the narrative on to the histories of Hitler’s young secretary and a boy soldier comes across as overly sentimental. (February 2006)

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