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Downfall

Year: 2005
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Cast: Bruno Ganz
A blistering, horrific, harrowing account from the other side of World War II, as powerful as anything Spielberg could tell along with the other members of the 'show World War II from the heroic American side' camp.

It also bravely ventures into territory long declared off limits in entertainment (or if not, guaranteed to cause controversy) – the man who was Adolph Hitler.

It has indeed caused up the expected shitstorm, in part no doubt appreciated by the distributor, but there's really nothing so shocking here. Hitler was only a man, not an inhuman monster. He just happened to be a racist and military supremacist – there are millions of them in the world (just look at the US of today), it's just that he commanded one of the most powerful armies and governments in history (once again, like the US and the wholesale slaughter it's both carried out and supported).

So why there's such a controversy to show him as one is a mystery. Apparently he was quite charming and eloquent, caring to his beloved dog and believing wholeheartedly in what he was doing. The point of human nature is few of us really intend to do evil, and Hitler didn't either – he thought he was doing good for the world, just like successive US Presidents claim they're doing when they invade and decimate helpless Middle Eastern nations.

Cinematically, it was a huge and pleasant surprise. I was only expecting the story of the final few days as told through the eyes of Hitler and those closest to him in his bunker as the Soviets closed in, but the film ventures outside into the rubble of Berlin and presents a sweeping, epic tale of the scope to rival Saving Private Ryan. The characters are realistic and the drama deeply affecting – the sequence of Goebbels' wife murdering their children one after another in their sleep (because she can't let them grow up in a world without German Nationalism) is extremely hard to stomach.

In the end, it's as accurate and gripping an account into the last few days of the Reich as we can ever expect to see. Hirschbiegel proved himself a very accomplished filmmaker with Das Experiment, and here he surpasses himself.

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