Wednesday, April 11, 2018

War Film 8: Downfall (Der Untergang, 2004)

In the final days of the Third Reich, Hitler rants and raves in the confines of his bunker while his Generals get ever more desperate and the Soviet army closes in. Partially based on the memoirs of one of Hitler's secretaries, Traudl Junge, Bruno Ganz turns in a weighty performance as one of the last century's most devastating figures in this bleak look at the fall of Nazism, and of Berlin, from German director Oliver Hirschbiegel. Click the image below to listen to the podcast (29.9MB, 1 hour 12 mins).

Recorded Sunday 8 April 2018, edited by Murray Ewing.

Notes and Errata: The Battle of Berlin saw the Russians enter the city with about 6,250 tanks, though they had around 20,000 in the vicinity; the Germans ended up with just 40 battle-ready tanks to use in the suburbs. An information board was put up at the site of the bunker in the lead-up to the 2006 World Cup, hosted by Germany. The scene where General Krebs tries to make a deal with the Russians was with General Chuikov, not Marshal Zhukov. Downfall didn’t win an Oscar but was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 2005 (won by The Sea Inside). The other actor I was trying to remember in, um, Remember (2015) was Martin Landau.

Purchase the film from Amazon UK: Downfall | Blu Ray | DVD | (2004).


  1. As always, enjoyed your program. We seen this film many years ago, so I haven't rewatched it since. But I listened to your program shortly after watching the Wild Wild Country documentary. Since we were kind close to this, when it happened, it was very interesting to relive. Things that happened during the time of this film, were played out in different scale in WWC. Shows how quickly mostly well off and educated people (who feel like they have empty lives) can turn to a dark side of life, rather quickly. And at the time, not think they are doing anything, but good. This film and WWC, I find hard to watch, but important works.

  2. That's a very interesting comparison. I hadn't heard of the WWC documentary before. While watching and thinking about Downfall for the podcast, I was amazed how relevant its picture of totalitarianism is to all sorts of areas other than just Nazi politics. Cults, even some modern big businesses and so on, can start to feel the same way, when you think about it. Chilling, really.