In 1945, The Third Reich is in its death throes with the Allies relentlessly attacking the capital city of Berlin. Its Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, retreats into his fortified bunker in Berlin with his senior staff. There, gripped with both delusions of grandeur and despair, Hitler commands a hopeless last stand with resources existing largely in his own mind. While resisting the pleas of rational minions like Albert Speer, basic reality finally comes unavoidable. With that, Hitler and his fanatical fellows prepare for their own end even as their grandiose dreams are becoming a smoking ruin above. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Reporters on the set said the sense of realism was so intense that at one point, when Anthony Hopkins entered the room to prepare for the next scene, actors portraying SS troops found themselves snapping to attention. See more »
Bormann refers to Gen. Patton's 3rd Division as crossing the Rhein. Patton commanded Third Army, a fact which the German staff would be all too aware of. See more »
An Inside Look At The Last Days Of Hitler And The Third Reich
The Third Reich was a land of insanity from its very beginning. That insanity increased as time went on, and this movie offers a pretty good look at its last days, as Hitler and his entourage hole themselves up in a bunker underneath the Reich Chancellory and act as if they're actually accomplishing something, even as Germany is being systematically overrun by Allied armies.
Of most interest are the various performances and the manner in which the various personalities are portrayed. Anthony Hopkins' work as Adolf Hitler was very good - especially considering the difficulties involved in playing such a complex and controversial subject. I thought Hopkins nailed the emotional complexity of the man - deliberately hiding himself from the realities of the War, calmly sitting down to tea with his secretaries one minute, then launching into a deranged tirade against his generals the next, addicted to drugs administered by his personal physician. Those who did makeup for this also got Hopkins to look the part - well not perfectly, but pretty close. Where I thought Hopkins missed the mark a bit was in Hitler's physical state. Aside from some trembling, Hopkins' Hitler actually looked pretty healthy. Other actors have to be looked at as well though, because this movie isn't really about Hitler - it has more to do with how the various personalities involved interacted with Hitler.
Much of the movie revolved around Nazi architect Albert Speer. Richard Jordan handled the part well, although the portrayal of Speer was interesting - probably unavoidably so, since Speer was almost as complex a character as Hitler. In the movie, Speer comes across as basically a good guy, fighting against Hitler's insane plans. There's truth to that view, but it's too limited. Speer was a devoted disciple of Hitler, and his actions against Hitler began only when it became obvious that Germany would lose the war. For Speer, as long as Germany might win, the horrors of Nazism seemed acceptable. Something was lacking in Cliff Gorman's portrayal of Joseph Goebbels. A lot was right
the portrayal of Goebbels' fanatical devotion to Hitler and Nazism,
his rabid anti-semitism and his cold as ice attitude - to the point of killing his own family without a second thought simply because he felt that without Hitler, there was no reason for any of them to live. Still, something about Gorman as Goebbels didn't work for me. He just didn't look the part, and I could never really equate the voice with Goebbels either. The third figure of significance was Martin Bormann, portrayed by Michael Lonsdale. Lonsdale was good here. Bormann was a rather shadowy character, and Lonsdale portrayed him that way. You could never really be sure what Bormann's priority was here - getting out of the bunker or staying loyal to Hitler. In fact, that's accurate, because above everything else, Bormann's main preoccupation was with power - whether represented by Hitler or someone else.
Largely missing from this account of these last days in the bunker (although it does pop up in the end) is the rather morbid and completely unreal question of who would succeed Hitler - as if there was going to be anything to succeed to. As I understand it, that was a rather serious issue in the bunker in those last days and weeks; it gets largely passed over in this movie. Basically, however, this is very well done. I particularly liked the last scene, when the machinist Hentschel (Martin Jarvis) throws papers in disgust at the radio when it announces Hitler's heroic death, "fighting to the last breath against Bolshevism," when Hentschel knew full well that Hitler had cowardly committed suicide and left everyone else to fend for themselves. Overall, I give this a 7/10
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