Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004)

My interest in Der Untergang was piqued after being subjected to the really not very funny web parodies where Hitler looses his shit over some noobish fad of the week. Despite not particularly seeing much humour in a paddy over Xbox live or Oasis breaking up it did make me wonder exactly what the source of this material was like. So I put my sweaty little hands on a copy of Downfall (as it is known over here).vlcsnap-2009-09-14-13h21m26s78Downfall is one of the bravest films I have seen for a very long time. Take one of the most sensitive subjects of the 20th century and write a film around it largely based on truth and first person testimony. Did I mention that this was done by the losing party?vlcsnap-2009-09-15-14h09m26s214What makes Der Untergang particularly brilliant for me is the brilliantly believable depiction of the people involved. Hitler isn’t shown as a complete genocidal lunatic, simply a lunatic, misguided and delusional as his house of cards falls around his ears. His total dislocation from acceptable and unacceptable is wholly believable and you do get the unshakable impression that here is a man with an actual God complex. He has grown to believe that he IS the 3rd Reich. There is also some degree of what the Reich meant to those on the Axis side. The attempt to improve mankind and to build a better society. To remove the weak and the flawed to better the race. Of course if you are in the side perceived to be pure this would sound like wisdom. vlcsnap-2009-09-15-14h37m27s133The film is largely verbal and set mainly in the depths of the Berlin bunker but some scenes are harrowing indeed and without any real over depiction of blood or gore. In particular Magda Goebbels poisoning of her children twists the guts of any person with kids and is truly difficult to understand. Of the persons shown the true villain never seems to be Hitler but his faithful Minister Goebbels, always approving and functioning machinelike behind the throne. The only real emotion shown being when Hitler orders him to leave and he disobeys. This is harder for him then the death of his own children. vlcsnap-2009-09-14-13h29m33s89What the film does brilliantly however is illustrate that even at the top levels of the war in the depths of very evil acts we have humans. People. Just like you, just like me and for those that hope and pray that such a thing could never happen again…well maybe the concept comes a little closer to reality.

Paul out…

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