Chalk up another good one for 2005. Simply amazing was Bruno Ganz' performance as Adolf Hitler in his final days of doom. Maniacal, psychotic, hateful, yet compassionate and almost loving to those whom he trusted, Hitler's last few days on this earth are filled with mystery...but not anymore. Based on Traudl Junge's (Hitler's personal seretary) memoirs, the last few days spent by Hitler and his entourage in a small bunker in central Berlin were sparking with insanity and chaos; and the audience believes what they are seeing is absolute in its historical truth. Ganz portrays the psychotic villain as well as anyone could. He captivates us with what Hitler's fits of rage towards generals and others who betrayed him must've been like. Then, at an instant, is suddenly cool, calm and collected. Hitler; one of the history's most powerful men, yet out of control and losing an epic war, and he knows it. Yet, he will not surrender or give up. Simply a stunning performance of the world's most notorious psychotic savage.
The set director deserves an Oscar nod for this one, as the locales and buildings are picture perfect and represent all that was the third reich. From the bombed out war-torn city and the large governement buildings to the fox holes and all the way down to the depths of the infamous bunker where Hitler did himself in, we are swept right into the city of destruction and hate.
Besides the incredible portrayal of the characters, were their emotional failures and heart-stomping dispicable deeds carried out under the fuhrer's orders. Not an uplifting film; it was chock full of death and shocking scenes. This film is powerful, emotional and historically significant, especially to anyone with great interest in WWII history. Now on to the bad stuff...
It could've standed to be a little shorter. Though the movie is riveting, I had to shift in my seat more than once (partly cause I was in a crappy theater), and there are a couple of unnecessary scenes as the movie is over 2 and a half hours long. A small price to pay though for the genius that is the rest of the film. Also, it couldn't seem to make up it's mind whether it was a war film, or a drama film. The actual war parts where the Russians are entering the city are kinda cool, but aren't really important to what the story is trying to say. We know the troops are there, but to watch the battle going on was nothing really special, and basically pointless.
You may find yourself actually feeling a little bad for the guys in the bunker (even Hitler). I caught myself feeling this way a couple of times and was unsettled by it. Then I would remind myself that they are servants of the devil and I felt okay with their suffering again. Some critics have stated that the film is almost compassionate towards the Nazis, but I would disagree. I think the film shows exactly how ruthless, corrupt and insane they were, but they just happen to have human feelings too. When you get a chance, see this movie! The film is excellent and deserves the praise it gets; especially for the acting. If I gave out ratings for movies this one would get the highest score possible. A DVD to buy for sure.
--- update 3.30.05: to give it that added realism, the whole thing is in German, so you are forced to read subtitles. But in this case, the foreign language makes it that much better and realistic
Downfall at IMDB.com