Claustrophobic, tense and often riveting, Downfall traps us in Hitler's bunker during the final days of the Third Reich. As the Allies advance on Berlin and the Führer's empire crumbles, lead actor Bruno Ganz gives the great dictator a human face as he struggles with the onset of Parkinson's disease and prepares to take his own life. Controversial in its native Germany, Oliver Hirschbiegel's meticulous film is no sensational shockfest, but a living, breathing historical recreation of Hitler's downfall.
Based on the memoirs of Nazi secretary Traudl Junge - who told her story in the compelling doc Blind Spot, Downfall begins with Junge arriving at the bunker. From there it moves outwards, taking in the army's chaotic attempts to defend the capital while, in the rabbit warren of concrete corridors that make up the bunker, Hitler and his closest advisors lose their grip on power and reality.
"GANZ GIVES A CAPTIVATING PERFORMANCE"
Ganz, who studied Parkinson's patients to play the ailing Führer, gives a captivating performance equal even to Anthony Hopkins' classic turn in 1981's The Bunker. Raging one minute, then kindly the next, he's definitely a monster - but a human one, which makes him all the more terrifying. The rest of the bunker's cast of grotesques are equally fascinating: wild-eyed Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler) dances on tables and embraces death with a grin and a giggle; Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes) arranges for his children to be killed. A macabre fly-on-the-wall reconstruction, Downfall is as close as anyone will ever get to recreating Hitler's last moments.