Truly great movies are few and far between these days; but Der Untergang most definitely represents one of those rare occasions. Oliver Hirschbiegel, who brought us the wonderful 'Das Experiment' has produced a film that is very nearly perfect. Depicting the final ten days of Hitler and the National Socialist regime, Der Untergang or 'The Downfall' to give it it's English title is an expose of failure and the way that a madman can bend a whole nation into doing his bidding. The film is very realistic, and an excellent ensemble cast breathe life and believability into the roles of the various members of the Nazi party and because every performance is picture perfect, the whole thing comes together brilliantly as one whole piece. Bruno Ganz gives the central performance as the Fuhrer himself and it is one of the greatest performances I've ever seen in a film. His portrayal of Hitler in the middle of his downfall is absolutely perfect, and Ganz excellently portrays the man's every emotion. It must be difficult to play such a notorious character as Hitler himself, but Ganz rises to the occasion and gives it his all.It is not the acting or the realism that is Der Untergang's main claim to greatness, however - it's the double meaning behind every scene. Each one is perfectly composed, and all the time you're watching you can not only see what's happening on screen but also take note of the implications surrounding it. Through every scene, there's always the notion that a nation is falling. That's another thing that's great about this movie - the way that it manipulates the audience into an awkward situation. On the one hand, we know that Hitler and the Nazi regime were unspeakably evil; but while we're watching this almost great nation crumble around it's leader, it is hard to watch without feeling some sympathy for the country, in spite of the ideals that were preached. I thought it would be impossible to generate feelings for the Nazi's; but Der Untergang has managed even that. 'The Downfall' is an apt title for this movie, as aside from depicting an important event in history; the film is fundamentally about failure. The entire movie focuses on one man's huge downfall, and it is both a heartbreaking and powerful cinematic experience. Der Untergang is not to be missed.
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