Thursday, December 15, 2005

Stuck In The Bunker With You

A Movie Review

"Bruno Ganz is Adolph Hitler", this is the movie marketing catch-phrase that while appropriately laudatory of the Downfall stars performance, would have been to 'risky' for the markers of this 2004 German film to even consider using. Telling the story of the Nazi leaders final days in his Berlin bunker, the movie is partly based on the account of one of der Fuhrers private secretaries Ms. Traudl Jungle (played by Alexandra Maria Lara), who was herself the subject of a 2002 German documentary.

In the films brief prolog set in 1942, Traudl is shown being hired by Adolph Hitler who himself comes across as surprisingly subdued and understanding. However we witness a very different Hitler through the rest of the film, tired and at the end of his rope the man is delusional, bitter, hurt, self-pitting and prone to outburst of temper and spastic hand ticks. Throughout his last days the German leader obsesses on those he feels betrayed him and his place in history, while saying emotional goodbyes to those who have remained 'loyal'. Traudl is one of the loyal ones, having been shielded from the true effects of the war she really doesn't seem to fully grasp that it is over until she realizes the Mrs. Goebbles (the wife of Hitlers yes-man propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels) has taken her six children to the bunker so that she can poison them (a scene that is particularly difficult to watch later in the film).

To contrast with Adolph Hitlers behavior at the fall of Berlin we are treated to several other connected stories, including that of an SS doctor who refuses a new (presumably safer) assignment to stay in the city and tend to civilians, Hitlers conflicted chief architect Herr Spear, and the family of a twelve year old boy 'solder' who is decorated by der Fuhrer in his last public appearance. We also get a close look at other 'inner-circle' members including Adolphs flamboyant long-time companion Eva Braun. The movie continues on for about 40 minutes after the joint suicide of the Nazi leader and his new bride (Adolph and Eva marry in the course of the film), to show us Traudl's escape from the bunker and the ultimate fate of the others who were there at the dictators end.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of the film is the fact that (and this has been pointed out by others) in the end Hitler dies surrounded by people that really love him. The tragically misplaced convictions of so many Germans is the truly tragic aspect of both the movie and to a large extent the war itself.


At 5:28 PM, Blogger GlennBeckFan said...

Man, now I want to see it even more than I already did. Speaking of movies, Glenn wasn't too impressed with King Kong!


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