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Downfall (2004)

Der Untergang (original title)
Traudl Junge, the final secretary for Adolf Hitler, tells of the Nazi dictator's final days in his Berlin bunker at the end of WWII.

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(screenplay), (book) | 2 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #119 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 21 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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Matthias Habich ...
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Michael Mendl ...
André Hennicke ...
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Birgit Minichmayr ...
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Justus von Dohnányi ...
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Storyline

In April of 1945, Germany stands at the brink of defeat with the Soviet Armies closing in from the west and south. In Berlin, capital of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler proclaims that Germany will still achieve victory and orders his Generals and advisers to fight to the last man. "Downfall" explores these final days of the Reich, where senior German leaders (such as Himmler and Goring) began defecting from their beloved Fuhrer, in an effort to save their own lives, while still others (Joseph Goebbels) pledge to die with Hitler. Hitler, himself, degenerates into a paranoid shell of a man, full of optimism one moment and suicidal depression the next. When the end finally does comes, and Hitler lies dead by his own hand, what is left of his military must find a way to end the killing that is the Battle of Berlin, and lay down their arms in surrender. Written by Anthony Hughes {husnock31@hotmail.com}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

April 1945, a nation awaits its...

Genres:

Biography | Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, disturbing images and some nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

8 April 2005 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Downfall  »

Box Office

Budget:

€13,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$210,232 (Austria) (17 September 2004)

Gross:

$1,288,633 (Brazil) (8 July 2005)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

'Justus Von Dohnanyi', who portrays General Wilhelm Burgdorf, is the grandson of Hans Von Dohnanyi, one of the members of the anti-Hitler conspiracy, who was hanged in Sachsenhausen concentration camp in September 1944. Through his grandfather's marriage, he is also the grand-nephew of Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, another anti-Hitler conspirator who was hanged in the Flossenburg concentration camp. See more »

Goofs

The teleprinter that received the messages from Hermann Goering is a post-war model, probably a Lorenz Lo2000, as it prints using a needle-matrix print head and uses both upper and lower case letters, which the 5-bit Baudot teleprinter code used at the time did not support. A more accurate model of teleprinter would have been the Siemens T34 tape printer which was very common in both the Reichspost and the Wehrmacht teleprinter networks. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Traudl Junge: I've got the feeling that I should be angry with this child, this young and oblivious girl. Or that I'm not allowed to forgive her for not seeing the nature of that monster. That she didn't realise what she was doing. And mostly because I've gone so obliviously. Because I wasn't a fanatic Nazi. I could have said in Berlin, "No, I'm not doing that. I don't want to go the Führer's headquarters." But I didn't do that. I was too curious. I didn't realise that fate would lead me ...
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Crazy Credits

After the final credits there is a statement by the real Traudl Jung about her feelings of guilt and responsibility. In the British Cinema release, this is moved to before the credits. See more »

Connections

Featured in De wereld draait door: Episode #4.58 (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Blutrote Rosen
(Hermann Hünemeyer / Alfred Krönkemeier)
Performed by Marek Weber and Orchestra
Courtesy of Musikverlag Ruthe
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A deeply disturbing, intimate portrait of the insanity of Hitler and the blind faith of his followers at the end.
5 June 2005 | by (New York State) – See all my reviews

In recent years, war films have given a new exposure to the sheer nature of war. In "Saving Private Ryan," "Black Hawk Down" and "Born on the Fourth of July," we were exposed to the realities that a soldier endures not only on the battlefield, but what they take with them long after the battles end. However, "Downfall," a German film nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2005 Oscars, brings a unique perspective to the table. It is about the last days of Hitler and the Third Reich and the ultimate demise of both. More so than a war movie, this feature exposes the insanity of Hitler and the blind faith of his followers at the end. It is a deeply disturbing, intimate portrait of the cruelty that he inflicted not only upon 6 million Jews, but ultimately on his own countryman at the end.

Based on the book "Inside Hitler's Bunker" by Joachim Fest, "Downfall" is in a word, shocking. The last act in the great horrific play of the Third Reich plays out like that of a cult—so many men and woman who swore allegiance to Hitler commit suicide by either shooting themselves in the head or by ingesting poison capsules. But the madness of Hitler himself is horrifically captivating. He changes his mind and opinion on a whim. One moment he advises his SS-Guards and Generals to leave the city after learning that he does not have enough troops to protect Berlin. A particular one named Gruppenführer Hermann Fegelein , who was Eva Braun's brother-in-law, takes the Fuhrer for his word and leaves Berlin. When Hitler realizes this, he denounces Fegelein and orders him executed. What is more, Hitler discusses the final demise of the German people. He explains that this failure is not only that of the military, but of the civilians themselves. As such, his soldiers do not protect the people from the coming onslaught of the Soviet Army. He advises, "In a war as such there are no civilians."

Hitler is recreated by the superlative performance of Bruno Ganz, who appeared in the 2004 remake of "The Manchurian Candidate." Ganz captures the movement, voice, even the involuntary shaking of Hitler's left hand so well, that the audience would feel as if they are watching the dictator himself. We are often left with shivers down our spine at how realistic Ganz's depiction is.

Surprisingly enough, Thomas Kretschmann, who played the Nazi captain that gave Wladyslaw Szpilman a coat and food in "The Pianist" is seen here as Fegelein. I first noticed Kretschmann as a German U-Boat commander in 2000s, "U-571." He is a remarkable actor who brings with him a demanding presence on the screen through his stern looks and ultimate resolve.

Unfortunately my knowledge of Eva Braun other than Hitler's mistress is limited. So it was refreshing to see a film that revealed her. Based on "Downfall's" depiction, Braun, portrayed by Juliane Kohler, was either one of the shallowest individuals I have ever seen, or she was so blinded by her faith in Hitler that she disregarded almost any sense of reality. For example, during Berlin's first days of bombardment, she becomes bored with being in the bunker and orders a party in an above ball room—not surprisingly during that party a shell lands nearby and blows out windows in the room. Secondly, during later heavy bombardment, realizing that she will commit suicide with Hitler, she writes a letter to a relative where she states what jewelry she will leave behind. She is simply detached from reality and lost in the fanatical jargon of the Fuhrer.

Certainly the film's most disturbing instances occur when Magda and Joseph Goebbels poison their children in the name of the Fatherland. One of their children, a girl probably about 10 years old, has a dim understanding of what is happening and refuses to take the drink given. She is then forced to drink it by her mother and a guard. Later on, Magda would come into her children's room while they were asleep and would give them the final capsule to eliminate them.

"Downfall" is certainly one of the most powerful film's I have ever seen. As stated above, Hitler and his followers played out their existence as if they were in a cult. The blind faith of his followers and the insanity of the man are so well realized by director Oliver Herschbiegel, that it changes one's perception from that of simply being history to that of realism.

These events happened less than a century ago and although most have learned to forgive Germany's past, no one will ever forget it. It is the stigma that haunts this generation of German youth because many of their grandparents or great-grandparents were a part of one of history's most infamous armies. But the fact that this film is German was surprising to me. I would have guessed that no one in Germany would have wanted to dig up their past in this way. However, if one looks at this film as closure to Germany's transgressions, then maybe this new generation of German youth can learn to have a sense of national identity without the horrors of the past seen in their shadows. **** out of ****


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