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In the dead of a November night in 1942, SS officers through the woods escort a group of young women to Wolf's Lair, Hitler's headquarters in Eastern Prussia. They are candidates for the post of personal secretary to the Fuehrer. Among them is 22-year-old Traudl Junge, a fresh-faced girl from Munich. Traudl is chosen for the job and she is overcome with joy at the thought of serving beside her Fuehrer. BERLIN, APRIL 20, 1945: Hitler has retreated to a bunker system under the German Chancellery. Traudl Junge is asleep in her room, deep beneath the ground. She is awakened by tremors from artillery fire. The enemy is getting closer. Charting the last 10 days of Hitler's life, from his 56th birthday on April 20th, 1945 to his suicide on April 30th, the film uses multiple characters to show the chaos of a country coming apart at the seams, from Hitler's henchman under the streets of Berlin, to the soldiers and civilians fighting and dying as the Soviet Army ravaged the city above. ActorsAlexandra Maria Lara - Bruno Ganz - Corinna Harfouch - Juliane Kohler - Ulrich Matthes. Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel. Condition: NEW. Format: DVD. Format Size: Widescreen. Runtime: 155 mins. Language: German. Subtitle: English Subtitles. Region code: Region 1 (United States, Canada, Bermuda, U.S. territories). Discs: 2. Rating: PG-13. Genre: Drama. Release Year: 2004.
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Being a history lover and having read many accounts of this particular time period I believe the movie to follow events as historically accurate as possible. Bruno Ganz does a fantastic job of portraying a head of state lunatic who was stubbornly in denial about his eventual defeat until the last week of his life. Many human emotions are well acted out against the backdrop of the inhumane war raging above. Each person inside the bunker has his or her own her own way of dealing with the coming downfall and each has their own way of capitulating defeat. Many will chose suicide as a way out. Other fanatics, especially some younger inexperienced teenagers choose to fight to the death in the streets of Berlin for a war that was by all other measures lost. Others try to escape, some will make it while others don't. The scene showing what Magda Goebbles chose to do at was hard to watch, although it was probably the most realistic depiction of what actually happened. All in all I thought it was a very professionally made film that reminds us all of the madness of war and the effects it has on those who fight in it, those who are unfortunately caught up in it, and in this case the historical figures that actually chose to begin it!
There are actually three versions of this movie, as you'll find if you query in imdb:
*Hitler: the last ten days, starring Alec Guinness in the title role, 1973;
*The Bunker, starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role, 1981;
*Downfall, starring Bruno Ganz in the title role, 2004. It is in German, with English subtitles. I couldn't get the 'audio setup' features to work in my DVD player, so I'm not sure if you can acquire other subtitles, or if they are auto detected. It is not dubbed, I don't think. For me, that's preferable, as then you hear the original actors, speak. This is the kind of movie you watch over and over, with sound off or on, just reliving the experience.
More on the differences: the first two films, focus mostly on the last 10 days; Downfall does that too, but Hitler's suicide is in the middle; Downfall then goes on for another hour, showing the aftermath of Hitler's suicide, focus still on Traudl Junge's memoirs (Hitler's last secretary).
All three are worth owning, and can be watched side by side in a weekend, if you need to immerse yourself to get a handle on.. how could this happen?
DVD edition of Downfall includes two specials: one, a voiceover on why the movie was made, over live filming of the filming (showing the crew shooting, with camera angles of the scenes which are different from the official film). Some deleted scenes are included, but not mentioned as such. The second special constitutes interviews of the cast, in subparts. Each of the specials is about an hour, and well worth watching.
Downfall then is the latest remake, and its expanded focus plus, as it were, corrections versus the prior productions -- to make it more real, the stated purpose -- makes it well worth watching. But all three are really worth owning and watching over and over.
Even if you're already well familiar with Shirer and the other biographers of Hitler and Co. during WWII, even if you've read the many in-depth biographies, this portrayal -- especially because it's in German -- will grip you into that time, so you will experience it.
Again, do get this and the other two, if you want to grasp how a Holocaust could happen; how WWII could happen. It happens, when enough minds share obsessive, adolescent thinking. And that very trend, is happening now, witness the religious fervor over Windows 10.
Technically, massive attention to common media like TV, radio, etc. provoke a shared-thinking, a kind of magical oneness which makes people susceptible to any silliness that comes along, so past is prologue.