Friday, February 27, 2009

Der Untergang (Downfall)

So what is this one about?
I will leave this one to Wikipedia,
In the last days of World War II in Europe, the Soviet Red Army is fighting its way into Berlin. Deep within his bunker underneath the Reichskanzlei, Adolf Hitler celebrates his last birthday and lives out his final 10 days isolated from the world, desperately ordering counterattacks that will never happen, from armies that exist only on maps, commanded by men who are most likely dead. Hitler (Bruno Ganz) is presented as he was in the last months of the war: a sick, exhausted man but dreaming still of a Greater Germany amid the ruins of war-ravaged Berlin and callously ranting against the "weakness" and "deserved destruction" of the German people for their lack of resistance. As the Red Army draws nearer and imminent defeat looms over the Third Reich, Hitler is seen alone with his clique which consists of Joseph Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes), Albert Speer (Heino Ferch) and (briefly) SS leader Heinrich Himmler (Ulrich Noethen), along with his personal staff.

Most of the events are depicted from the perspective of Hitler's young personal secretary Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara). Events outside Hitler's bunker are mostly depicted from the perspective of SS doctor Ernst-Günther Schenck (Christian Berkel). On the day before his death Hitler marries his longtime mistress Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler) and they commit suicide together on April 30, 1945, ten days after Hitler's 56th birthday.

(Holy shit that is a lot of links!!!!!)

And how much did I pay to watch?
When I watched this I didn't pay anything, because I watched my own copy of the film on dvd. I did at one time see the movie in the theatre, which made me want to buy the dvd (which I did with an gift certificate) so I did spend money on it at one time. But not this time.

And what did I think?
I think this film is amazing. Everything about it is just beyond extraordinary. But, the main thing that is so tragic and poignant about this film is that none of it needed to happen. The deaths of all the officers, the downfall of the whole of the German people. Its tough man. Its tough. And Downfall doesn't step back from slapping you in the face with the cruel and vicious and disturbing realities of that time.

You have to give a war movie that is really realistic a lot of credit. I once watched Come and See (a Belarusian war film that I will refer to in my write up of Defiance) and my professor told me that it is widely viewed as one of the most realisitic and therefore bleak war movies ever made. Downfall was sort of like that.

And, you know, now that I am reading the wikipedia entry on this movie I feel like maybe I shouldn't say a lot specifically about this film (a la Gran Torino, which I did see for a second time, and it was just as amazing the second time. Seriously, have you still not seen Gran Torino???) so that when you watch it (WHICH YOU SHOULD!) you wont have much of it ruined for you. I think that is what I should do.

I will say that the Russian history nerdo in me was very interested to see that many of the Germans who were in the bunker ended up in the Gulag once they were captured. And I will also tell you that the soft hearted, history aware, wimp in me tears up a lot during this one. It is just so, so, so, so, so, so good. It is really amazing.

So what is the rating? (out of 10)
This is a movie that I consider pretty much perfect. If someone was like, "Hey Julia, you seem to complain about how movies aren't amazing. So, if you had to pick, what would be a 10 to you. Not a film you like a lot like Love Actually, but a really amazing, flawless, piece of film making?" I would say Downfall.

So, a 10 it is. And, immediately after I saw it for the first time I knew it was one of the best films I had ever seen.

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