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Downfall

4.8 out of 5 stars 749 customer reviews

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(Aug 02, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Called dramatic, accurate and harrowing by the San Francisco Chronicle and nominated for the Oscar(r)for Best Foreign Film, Downfall takes you into Hitler's bunker during the brutal and harrowing last days of the Third Reich. Seen through the eyes of Hitler's infamous secretary Traudl Junge, optimism crumbles into grim realization and terror as it becomes clear that Germany's defeat is inevitable. As the Russian army circles the city, the dimly lit halls of the underground refuge become an execution chamber for the Fuhrer and his closest advisors.

Special Features

  • In German with English subtitles
  • Making-of Featurette
  • Cast and Crew Interviews
  • Commentary by Director Oliver Hirschbiegel

Product Details

  • Actors: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch
  • Directors: Oliver Hirschbiegel
  • Producers: Bernd Eichinger
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: German (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 2, 2005
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (749 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009RCPUC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,571 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Downfall" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. W. Rasband on May 10, 2005
"Downfall" is one of the most astonishing movies I have seen this year. I am a little baffled that it hasn't received more attention in the United States. Bruno Ganz should have gotten an Oscar nomination for best actor. But it did get a nomination for best foreign film. "Downfall" is easily as good and gripping as the renowned hit "Das Boot". It's probably the case that foreign movies don't get as much attention now as they did in the 1980's. Nevertheless, this fine film should have a long life on DVD.

"Downfall" has caused some controversy because it depicts Adolf Hitler not as a demon, but as a human being who was kind to his young secretaries and his dogs. In fact this makes his evil all the more insidious and monstrous. "Downfall" can be seen as an attempt by Germans to come to terms with their part in Hitler's crimes. How could a not-entirely-bad man like Albert Speer or an innocent like Traudl Junge retain their loyalty and admiration for such a diseased figure? We see the terrible events of April 1945 through German eyes. This involves acknowledging the horrible suffering of the German people as they were bombed and smashed into surrender. (Definitely, however, without letting them off the hook for their moral responsibility for the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity.)

We see Berlin turned into an apocalyptic landscape that would not seem out of place in the Book of Revelation. Gangs of murdering Nazis roam the rubble, looking for final victims to lynch. The Volkssturm, the army of old men and little boys recruited for the last defense of the city, is slaughtered by the advancing Russians. Officials of the regime are committing suicide right and left.
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A Kid's Review on July 17, 2005
Format: DVD
I thought it was a goof when we hear a German general suddenly speaking in Russian while negotiating a surrender. So I did a little fact-checking and was surprised to see how accurately events and characters are portrayed, down to the spoken lines and physical appearance of supporting actors. The general in question was Krebs and he was indeed fluent in Russian (Cornelius Ryan, "The Last Battle", p. 468)

For historical accuracy alone, this is a movie that puts all of Hollywood war movies to shame.
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I saw this film in Germany in November, 2004, and picked up a copy in Berlin this March...my pre-ordered Amazon.de copy was waiting for me on my return.

This film is essential for anyone who wishes to understand "the evil that men do" (and women, for example, Frau Goebbels, who killed her children because she did not want them to grow up in a world without National Socialism, Nazism). It is a deep film, based on the historical novel of Joachim Fest, and the stunning documentary "Blind Spot" (Bis Zum Toten Winkel) revealing the thoughts of Hitler's personal secretary, Traudl Humps (married to an SS officer on Hitler's staff who was killed in 1943, she became Traudl Jung), shortly before her death as the millenium turned.

The acting is superb. The best new crop of German actors, as well as Bruno Ganz portraying Der Führer himself, are excellent. Most of the elements that led to the coming of the Holocaust, the Third Reich, and its downfall are cleverly intertwined in this phenomenally staged docudrama. In several viewings, I could find virtually nothing to criticize, down to the china used in the bunker, or so-called Führerbunker, to the attitudes of the many Field Marshalls, who were in many ways as "apolitical" as General Tommy Franks, attitudes of resignation, as suicide as the last honorable gesture, of "doing the right thing."

Such films have to be seen in context. After 60 years of banishment of the swastika (Hakenkreuz in German) in Germany, we see the swastika in its full "glory" throughout the film, the beautiful and attractive uniforms originally designed by Hugo Boss (no kidding).
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you want to know how it feels to enter the abyss, then watch this movie. The viewer is crushed by the heartache of the coming end of the Reich, and wonders how any person could emerge from it with a measure of sanity remaining. Civilians trapped in the street fighting; children enduring tank assaults; the constant drumbeat of incoming artillery; and meanwhile against the constant backdrop of the unreality of the Fuhrerbunker, the men and women living in their "wolkenskukushiem."

What is it like to experience total and utter defeat? The world you have known is collapsing around you, and you are totally helpless to stop it.
Watch the face of the actor who plays Brigadefuhrer Mohnke as he hears Göbbels telling him that the German people will have their "little throats" cut. What would go through YOUR mind? Watch as an SS doctor works his way through the bunker, even as men of the Nordland and Charlemagne SS troops (yes... Norwegians and French volunteers fighting the last battle around the Führerbunker) recheck their equipment and load what little ammunition they have left. The shock on Gen. Helmut Weidling's face, the commander of the famed 56th PanzerKorps, as he is told that HE's now the commandant of Berlin's defenses. The flash of reality that crosses Eva Braun's face when she gives away her mink coat to Traudl Junge, a rare glimpse through the forced happiness she otherwise displayed.

But in the midst of the carnage there is real courage. Forget the politics, forget the Nazis, as you see that there were people who displayed REAL courage in hopeless circumstances... soldiers and civilians fighting hopeless battles through the crumbling streets of Berlin. My mother saw and experienced some of this same anguish in Southern Germany.
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