Saturday, May 28, 2005

Downfall (Der Untergang)

I watched this film to learn more about the final days during the Battle of Berlin, and to know more about Adolf Hitler and the twilight of his Third Reich at the end of WWII. A good movie can be made based on this premise alone, and true enough, I was blown away, as this film offered a lot more.

Told through the eyes of many historical characters - the various war generals, a defiant Hitler Nazi Youth, Eva Braun, Hitler's stenographer Traudl Junge, and of course, Hitler himself. However, this film never exhibited a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, as each perspective focused on different aspects during the fall of Berlin. There are those who talk about surrendering, some who want to fight to the end, holding onto the Fuhrer's belief that their troops outside Berlin will come to their rescue. You get a good sense of what's happening in the bunkers as Hitler's slowing losing it all.

But this film is not all about talk and no action. Those expecting blood and gore from a war movie, will get just that. The filmmakers did a wonderful job re-creating war torn Berlin, and the bunkers in which Hitler and his generals spent their last days in. We don't get to see the Russians much, but we jolly well hear each and every Made-In-Russia artillery shell that's raining down - the entire movie really makes you feel like you were there in a war zone - every arty raid, every bullet fired. You'll get to see grizzly mock hospitals, where doctors amputate limbs. Suicides are common too, and you see blood and brain matter splatter on screeen.

The many characters are well-acted and brought to life effectively, but I'd like to put the spotlight on Bruno Ganz's portrayal of Hitler. It really brings the chills, and we can see the many hours of research bringing in results of every nuance the Fuhrer had, right down to Parkinson's.

This film, while it humanizes Hitler and his generals, doesn't suggest that they are innocent of their war crimes. It puts into perspective the "other side", giving the audience a chance to perhaps understand the happenings in the fall of a regime.

Though it's 2 1/2 hours long, for someone interested in WWII and the Fall of the Third Reich, you'll never notice its length, and will clamour for more. Highly recommended.

This film is a Cathay Cineleisure exclusive showcase, and today's sneaks happened to be in the smallest hall #6, which is a pity. Tickets are few, and sold out early. Hope those interested will be able to get tickets on the day you wanna watch.

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