Der Untergang (Downfall in English) is a 2004 German-Italian-Austrian historical war drama film depicting the final ten days of Adolf Hitler's rule over Nazi Germany in 1945. It was based on several histories of the period. The film was directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, and written and produced by Bernd Eichinger. The film received critical acclaim upon release and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
In April of 1945, Germany stands at the brink of defeat with the Soviet Armies closing in from the west and south. In Berlin, capital of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler proclaims that Germany will still achieve victory and orders his Generals and advisers to fight to the last man. "Downfall" explores these final days of the Reich, where senior German leaders (such as Himmler and Goring) began defecting from their beloved Fuhrer, in an effort to save their own lives, while still others (Joseph Goebbels) pledge to die with Hitler. Hitler, himself, degenerates into a paranoid shell of a man, full of optimism one moment and suicidal depression the next. When the end finally does comes, and Hitler lies dead by his own hand, what is left of his military must find a way to end the killing that is the Battle of Berlin, and lay down their arms in surrender.
Why It Rocks
- It faithfully retells the final days of the Third Reich.
- Excellent casting choices like Bruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler and Thomas Kretschmann as Hermann Fegelein.
- There are many intense and serious moments. For example, the famous scene where Hitler goes berserk after finding out that the 12th Army's counterattack failed.
- Beautiful soundtrack.
- Unlike most other foreign films, Downfall didn't receive a English dub track, thus preserving the film's atmosphere.
- It spawned a bunch of internet memes and Downfall parodies, such as Hitler's tantrum at the desk room as he realize Steiner fails his order.
- While truthfully retelling the final days of Adolf Hitler's life, the film still contains a few historical inaccuracies:
- Doctor Schenck goes to a a hospital taken over by Russians in order to retrieve medical supplies and medicines, with penicillin among them, but penicillin, despite already being discovered in 1927, would not been introduced in hospitals untill 1947.
- Otto Günsche listen to Hitler's last orders without standing at attention. Given that Hitler was the highest authority in the german army, this is highly unlikely.
- Joseph Goebbels did not actually kill his wife Magda and then commit suicide as seen in the movie. He ordered a soldier to kill both him and his wife.
- This film spawned the Downfall Parodies memes (or simply known as Hitler Parodies), a parody series made by numerous YouTubers (called Untergangers) that edits the film's English subtitles to re-imagine Fegelein as a serial prankster who seeks to make Hitler's life utterly miserable. It has become one of the most popular internet memes on YouTube, and is still growing strong to this day.
The film grossed over $92.2 million against a budget of €13.5 million.
Downfall received critical acclaim. With a fresh rating of 91% and an average rating of 8/10 on Rotten Tomatoes. The site's consensus states "Downfall is an illuminating, thoughtful and detailed account of Hitler's last days."