Monday, March 14, 2005

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Went and saw Der Untergang by Oliver Hirschbiegel last night, for me an absolute must see with my interests in WWII history .

My favourite scene in this film is actually the beginning where twenty-one year old Traudl Junge arrives in East Prussia to apply for a job as a personal secretary.
At the job interview her future employer likes the fact that she's from his beloved Munich and she gets the job after spending a few minutes in the company of this lovable, polite and charming old man - Adolf Hitler.

Then the movie jumps to april 20'th 1945- Hitler's last birthday, which he spends in his bunker in Berlin surrounded by a few faithfull employees and a collection of desperate generals, the Russian armies have entered the outskirts of Berlin and the end of the Third Reich is near.

We follow Hitler and his associates as they try to deal with the fact that all they have put their lives into creating is now in ruins and their most hated and feared enemies are only a few blocks away.
Hitler swings between insane outburts of hatred when his orders for counter attack are not followed (by armies existing only on paper), and resignation as he realises that all is lost.

As a WWII maniac it's a great pleasure to see a film with such great attention to correct detail, something often missing (not including Saving Private Ryan and a few others) and the endless row of soldiers, officers, nurses and high ranking Nazi's who either sweat it out in the bunker waiting for the dreaded Russians or endure the horrors of war in the streets (and cellars) of Berlin are recreated with state of the art realism.

In general Das Untergang is however a quite traditional historic film, the various characters represent different aspects of the event - the young boys of the Hitler Youth who are sent to fight the Russian tanks, the opportunists at the Nazi court who try to find a way out of the death trap, the German military who are caught up in a spider's web of honour, duty and the fact that the enemy is simply unstoppable, the government officials who try to keep the Nazi party from pulling the entire nation down with them- the high ranking Nazi's who will rather kill themselves and their families than live in a world without national socialism, and the civillians who are waiting for the nightmare to stop - and then what?

It's great craftmanship, but the real clou of the film is the fascinating abilities of Bruno Ganz who plays Hitler not only as the hatefull dictator but also as the broken individual who cries over his defeat and lost dreams.
It sheds some light on why people close to him could live with a man who turned out to be one of the greatest criminals in history - sometimes Hitler was just Hitler.
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