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Downfall (Blu-ray)

Released on 15 December 2008

Featuring: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara & Ulrich Matthes

Format: Blu-ray | Rating: 15 years & over

4.0 out of 5 (16 customer reviews) | Write a review

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April 1945, a nation awaits its... Downfall

Not since G.W. Pabst's 1956 effort, Letste Akt (The Last Act) has a German film attempted to tackle the subject of their most famous leader, Adolf Hitler. Breaking a long-standing taboo, the director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, has made a film that has sparked much debate in Germany and the rest of the world.

Downfall features an astonishing performance by Bruno Ganz as history's most notorious figure. Providing an unprecedented and controversial insider's perspective, the film is a gripping insight into the madness and desperation of Hitler in the final hours of the war as the Russian Army closes a ring around Berlin. Beautifully photographed and brilliantly acted, this tour de force is at once dramatic, harrowing and remarkably authentic.

The basis for the screenplay by writer-producer Bernd Eichinger came from two key sources: Joachim Fest's book Inside Hitler's Bunker: The Last Days of The Third Reich, the recognition that the horrifying epic of Hitler and his people during his twelve years in power was reflected in those last twelve days in the bunker; and the memoirs of Hitler's private secretary, Traudl Junge, in Melissa Mueller's book, Until The Final Hour: Hitler's Last Secretary, which provided an invaluable insight into the character of the man, and those final, fatal few days of the war.

customer Reviews

 Average rating (16 reviews)

 Simply outstanding.....a superb film.

| | See all Vitalintellignce's reviews (5)

This film is remarkable. Not only does it deal with a frequently historically and poltically deconstructed sequence of events factually, with honesty and remarkably disspasionately, it cross-indexes reams of facts and presents probably the closest reconstrucion of the last days in the Bunker that will ever materialise. It showed in its making that time and forgivness are something that has also come to pass, as remarkably much of it was made in St Petersburg and many of the cast are Russian. It was the only city that looked anything like Berlin, many of the buildings sharing the same original achitect.

Peformance wise, the film is a masterpiece, of historical and character accuracy. Hitler is played with all the contradictory traits, temprament and even accent that for any student or survivor of the times is simply spine-tinggling. The terrible lost cause, the knowledge that everything is failing, the murder by their mother of the Goebells children, all of it is played with ruthless historical accuracy and while Magda Goebells is played a little harshly one aquires the perverse understanding that for her and many like her their was no thought or desire to live once Hitler was gone.

If the film does anything really well, it shows pinfully in microcosm the nationally (but not universally) widespread link that so many Germans in every walk of life had to Hitler, all the time he was alive no matter how pointless the cause, they would go on. Once he was dead, it was like a huge cloud and weight was lifted from them - you either joined him or you faced the future.

This film is deeply emotional, if you are not aware of the facts or the real history it may not affect you, but I saw this at the cinema and I assure you, the many people there, mostly couples, many of them old enough to have lived through it and many German students, were, as I was, sobbing at the end. When the end comes and ther is a short interview with Traudl Junge (whose memoirs the original idea for the book was based on and forms the pivotal character), as she explains how (now and old lady who sadly died 2 years before the film was finished), she feels, you simply understand. She looks back on that period of her life and its almost like another world, almost like it wasn't her. She was a secretary, aged 22 and did a job for her countries leader in war time. She knew no more until the facts came to light of what had gone on and the ghastly realisation she may have unwitingly played a small part, was one she could barely live with.

5 star totally recommended.

 A truly brilliant war film

| | See all FRIDGE1981's reviews (28)

I had watched this film long before blu-rays were invented because im a huge history fan. However the quality of the blu-ray just brings this film to life on a whole different level. The film is excellent. A true German perspective on the last month of the war, and what a performance. What a cast! Ganz is fantastic and utterly believeable as Hitler. A real German interpretation of the war, and not just a hyped up allied version of it, which is difficult to do from the former axis nation but done brilliantly. Its quite an emotional film and displays the real psychological demands of people in that environment and in that time during a devastating portion of history. If you like that sort of thing, then this is a must. !!

 Unmissable

| | See all Oldmanfuttock's reviews (8)

This has to be one of the best films I have seen in the last few years. You are totally drawn in, as if watching a documentary rather than a film.
Bruno Ganz' Hitler is outstanding, a performance far outstripping any oscar winning American mega star.
The biggest achievement is that you find yourself feeling for the characters, many of which support the unacceptable and barbaric policies of the Nazi party, and in doing so deserve no sympathy.
Had this production team and actors been used for the recent Daniel Craig film 'Defiance' they would have done the story justice.
My only complaint is a Blu-ray disc with a Dolby Digital sound track? Bit of a let down

 One of the all time greats, unmissable.

| | See all plasmabob's reviews (18)

First off, it's subtitled all the way through, and if this is not your thing you won't enjoy it. My view is that it just adds to the atmosphere and to have produced an English speaking version would have been a backward step. This is not 'tally ho chaps, crikey fritz has come a cropper', this is real life as it happens filming, no fancy effects, no hollywood glitz, just a compelling story of how the final days of the third reich unfurled. The acting is such that you cannot avoid feeling empathy towards Hitler and his undying belief that what he was doing was for the good of the German people, and ultimately his disdain and utter rejection at what he could only see as their betrayal. I haven't owned this but saw it on More4. But that just caused me to buy it. You cannot watch it just once, there is too much to take in, and some of the scenes in the bunkers will have you close to tears. As a huge fan of Band of Brothers and having immense respect and admiration for what those guys did....this is the other side of the coin. Maybe, just maybe your view of the German Army will be changed forever, I know mine has. 5 Stars and more.

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ActorsBruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Corinna Harfouch, Juliane Kohler, Heino Ferch, Matthias Habich, Christian Berkel & Ulrich Noethen
DirectorOliver Hirschbiegel
Certificate15 years and over
Year2004
ScreenWidescreen
LanguagesGerman
SubtitlesEnglish