#117: Downfall (2004)

When and how did I watch this?

July 22nd and 23rd, 2016, on a random site.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

This is the legendary viral film.  Yes, it’s the one with the played out scene featuring Hitler getting upset about his empire’s demise that’s been re-subtitled thousands of times by Interwebs users. Obviously, it’s about the end of Nazi Germany, not about using Comic Sans or putting pineapple on pizza.

What do I know about it now?

This is a cold, dark film.  Nearly the whole thing takes place in an underground bunker, lit sparsely and occupied by increasingly worried German sympathizers, primarily officers and soldiers. Some family is also living here, escalating the tension and the horrible inevitability that all is not well.  Bombs rattle the bunker, lights flicker, escape-or-die scenarios are posed, and a mad and sick Fuhrer makes his final plans, creating a domino effect that humanizes some of the monsters of the Nazi regime. I can’t say I enjoyed this movie, but I was certainly enraptured.

What are some themes in the film?

WWII, fear, delusion, resolve, nationalism, life/death

Did this affect me personally?

Without question. We’ve demonized many of these historical figures, and instead, this film recognizes that these were actual people but haunted by the demons of their past decisions. Many moments are hard to forget.

Why is this ranked #117?

Once again, World War II is a horror this world shall never forget, and adequately treating any dimension of the war in a cinematic manner will garner praise from those who watch. That said, this film takes it to another level, forcing the viewer to move about in this terrible bunker, making us ALMOST sympathetic.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She saw almost none of it.

Would I watch it again?

Nope.  This is too much for repeat viewings.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Yes, but have some fun plans afterward.  It’s depressing, to say the least.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Yes.  While many people remember the war as one of military attrition, bombing campaigns, terrible crimes against humanity, and proud political leaders, this one concentrates all of these aspects into the pale flesh of Hitler and his closest assistants. The film is a unique and memorable take, and unquestionably a stroke of greatness in cinema.

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