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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.

Writers:

Bernd Eichinger, Joachim Fest (based on the book "Der Untergang: Hitler und das Ende des Dritten Reiches" by) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
994 ( 96)
Top Rated Movies #131 | Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 22 wins & 33 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruno Ganz ... Adolf Hitler
Alexandra Maria Lara ... Traudl Junge
Corinna Harfouch ... Magda Goebbels
Ulrich Matthes ... Joseph Goebbels
Juliane Köhler ... Eva Braun
Heino Ferch ... Albert Speer
Christian Berkel ... Prof. Ernst-Günther Schenck
Matthias Habich ... Prof. Werner Haase
Thomas Kretschmann ... Hermann Fegelein
Michael Mendl ... General Weidling
André Hennicke ... General Mohnke
Ulrich Noethen ... Heinrich Himmler
Birgit Minichmayr ... Gerda Christian
Rolf Kanies ... General Hans Krebs
Justus von Dohnányi ... General Wilhelm Burgdorf (as Justus von Dohnanyi)
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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...


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Clips from this movie are used in numerous parodies that appear on YouTube in which a scene (usually the one of Adolf Hitler yelling at his subordinates) is re-subtitled to imbue it with unintended comedic meaning. The first such video was "Hitler gets banned from Xbox Live;" other subjects include: Nashville's gas crisis of 2008, changes to Epcot at Walt Disney World, the delay of the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), fans' disappointment with the first Avatar (2009) trailer, the "Balloon Boy" hoax of October 2009, and Brett Favre signing with the Vikings. Many of the parodies have Hitler yelling at his subordinates about punctuation or spelling errors, in reference to the fact that sticklers for editing are sometimes derided as "Grammar Nazis." In 2010, Constantin Films, which owns the rights to Downfall (2004), started taking down the parodies, arguing that their copyright was being infringed. Shortly thereafter, new parody videos appeared decrying Constantin Films' actions as "Naziesque." Contrary to the reaction of Constantin Films, director Oliver Hirschbiegel claimed to have seen over a hundred of such parodies and enjoyed them very much. YouTube has since stopped blocking these parodies. As of August 2019, the most well-know creator of the parodies, "Hitler Rants Parodies", continues to have a presence on YouTube, with new material ranging from light comedy to biting political satire subtitling. 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 »

Alternate Versions

Extended version includes 22 minutes of additional footage. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in World War Brown (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Davon geht die Welt nicht unter
(Michael Jary / Bruno Balz)
© 1942 by Ufaton-Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
Performed by Zarah Leander
Courtesy of BMG Music Publishing Germany, Munich
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User Reviews

A truer rendition of Hitler I've never seen...
15 September 2004 | by adammezeiSee all my reviews

Not since perhaps Rod Steiger's portrayal of Benito Mussolini in Moustapha Akkad's LION OF THE DESERT (1980) have I seen a notorious dictator more realistically acted than Bruno Ganz's stunning display as "Der Fuerer" in The Downfall (2004).

Sitting amongst a full-house of patrons here at the Toronto Int'l Film Festival's 2004 edition, Ganz captivated the local audience with the scariest Hitler I've ever seen up on the silver screen -- better than Noah Taylor's English Hitler in MAX just a couple of years back.

Audience members get a glimpse into the final days of Hitler's rule from the bunker deep beneath the Reich Chancellery in Nazi Berlin's dying days. The defeated spirit of the Nazis -- covered extensively in the history books -- has seldomly been more penetratingly shown on the Big Screen. Bravo to director Oliver Hirschbiegel for doing this the right (German) way -- for intrepidly tackling a period piece few German producers might.

I'd had a chance to chat with the actors post-screening, with lead actress Alexandra Maria Lara (playing Traudl Junge) candidly admitting the sheer amount of work she'd diligently invested in bringing her character to life -- doubtless complicated by the death of Frau Junge in 2002. Her research, however, was clearly impeccable and left no stone unturned. Corinna Harfouch wasn't on hand -- as Magda Goebbels. Pity because in many respects, she convincingly stole the show.

So rarely do we see Hitler on screen in modern days to allow us a glimpse into the horrifying nature of a madman bent on global domination. We all know the end of this story, but seldom does a film so masterfully suspend your disbelief than does The Downfall in making you wonder just how the Third Reich might end. Historical fiction might never be the same.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

Germany | Austria | Italy

Language:

German | Russian | French | English

Release Date:

8 April 2005 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Downfall See more »

Filming Locations:

Russia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

EUR13,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,195, 20 February 2005

Gross USA:

$5,509,040

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$92,181,574
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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