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German: Der Untergang
|Directed by||Oliver Hirschbiegel|
|Written by||Bernd Eichinger and a few thousand others|
|Starring||Bruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler|
|Produced by||Bernd Eichinger|
over four thousand minutes
|Language||histrionic, often profane|
|Budget||€13 500 000|
Downfall (German: Der Untergang) is a 2004 German war film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, depicting the intense temper tantrums of Adolf Hitler in the final days of World War II in Europe and beyond.
For whatever reason, a group of Nazis evacuate into this giant underground complex, and some sort of war is going on. In addition, some kids are fighting a lot of Soviet tanks. This portion of the film is largely unimportant and is widely accepted as filler exposition.
The only portion of the film that matters arrives as Hitler and his generals discuss Berlin's defences. Hitler does not doubt that Steiner will be able to gather his forces to drive the Soviet army out of the city. However, the generals are forced to inform him that Steiner's attack never will happen due to lack of forces. At this point, Bruno Ganz gives an exquisite performance as Hitler, realising that he has met his downfall after all of his vitriolic intent for world domination. He shakes; he puts his glasses down, meaning that things just became extremely serious; he is ready to unleash his fury and anger.
|“||THAT WAS AN ORDER!! STEINER'S ASSAULT WAS AN ORDER!! Who do you think you are to dare disobey an order I give?! So this is what it has come to! The military has been lying to me. Everybody has been lying to me, even the SS! [...] What I should have done ... was liquidate all the high-ranking officers, as Stalin did!||”|
He rants on and on, accusing the generals of treason, betrayal, siding with Fegelein, and other things clearly far worse than depriving the world of freedom and justice. But then as we least expect it he runs out of vitriol, and pauses, realising the bitter, but true, truth:
|“||It's over. The war is lost.
But if you think that I'll leave Berlin for that, you are sadly mistaken. I'd prefer to put a bullet in my head.
After this, some other minor things happen, such as some child soldiers dying in the streets, the Soviet forces beginning to take Berlin, and the Nazi leadership committing suicide.
The Internet cut is rather like a fugue: it starts with a theme and does not in the slightest bit know when to stop repeating it over and over again. It begins with Hitler and his generals discussing the war as expected. Then, however, Hitler is revealed to have been banned from Xbox Live. The sheer flagrance of the anachronistic mention would seem to be a fleeting jab at the ridiculousness of the Nazis' warmongering and hatred, were it not mentioned over and over again for the next four minutes. Ganz's performance fails to falter or disappoint, however, and his dialogue remains vitriolic:
|“||How dare they ban my console! I had over 2000 microsoft points! I bought a Call of Duty Theme Pack too! I even used the arcade games from time to time!||”|
Hitler then calms down, but not for long, as we cut to another briefing, where Hitler suddenly gets rickrolled, and proceeds to unleash more anger:
|“||I don't want to think of that redhead dancing around! Oh my god ... That song should be dead!||”|
Ganz's marathon performance is really most remarkable, but the dedication of the rest of the actors is no less astounding. Three hundred and forty-two minutes in, Hitler's secretary is still able to withstand the vitriol coming out of his mouth, and continues to attempt to cheer up a less hardened colleague:
|“||Your nose really isn't all that bad.||”|
|“||Don't cry ... I thought your costume looked very good!||”|
|“||I'm sure he has unaccepted friend requests.||”|
|“||Honey, you really need to start using the proxy server.||”|
And long after he should have swallowed his cyanide pill, long after the Soviets have taken Berlin, long after West and East Germany reunify, long after the fall of the USSR, long after the invention of the warp drive, Hitler rages on—about the SNP, about Call of Duty, about E3, about Wikipedia—about everything but Steiner's aborted attack and the state of the war.
The film's release sparked an intense debate in the media, with tabloids running headlines like "Are we allowed to show the monster as a gamer?". As if the debate actually even needed to happen, various critics weighed in with their opinions:
|“||Ganz's work is astounding, even moving, but his skills may not be being put to the best possible use. By emphasising the painfulness of Hitler's ordeals Ganz has made the dictator into just another geek. Considered as a biography (if a rather loose one), Downfall insists that the monster was actually invariably banal—that he is more concerned about his pirated games and his support for Hillary Clinton than the impending Allied victory, that he's just another Internet troll—and we get the point. But what sort of senseless maniac came up with this premise?||”|
|“||The German media have wondered whether this portrayal was too sympathetic and too supportive of neo-Nazism. Fat chance. The Internet cut is just as banal as every single blasted subject on which Hitler expounds his hatred. Neo-Nazis are extreme right fascists—not the sort of people portrayed in this inexplicable phenomenon. This Hitler may be Hitler, but not the Hitler we all despise wholeheartedly—this is a discontented geek who somehow managed to put his voice over that of Hitler.||”|
Various parties have consistently criticised Downfall for its sympathetic, blasphemous, taboo-breaking portrayal of Hitler in his last days. One person has been particularly discontent with the Internet cut: