Der Untergang

Der Untergang(2004)
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Stars: Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Corinna Harfouch and others

Der Untergang is a World War-II drama that explores Adolf Hitler’s last days in the Nazi Führerbunker, featuring the slow annihilation and downfall of the Third Reich as seen through the eyes of Hitler’s personal secretaries and many eye witnesses. Der Untergang’s claustrophobic realism and mania makes it one of the most accurate and greatest World War-II films of all time.

World War-II is in its final stage and the Russian armada is closing in on Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) takes shelter in his bunker with his to be wife, Eva Braun (played by Juliane Köhler), generals and other staff. Traudl Junge (played by Alexandra Maria Lara) is Hitler’s newest recruit and she enrols herself out of sheer adventurous and youthful enthusiasm. Adolf Hitler treats Traudl Junge with father-like care and she reciprocates the same admiration, initially. The war in Berlin intensifies and Hitler’s close officials suggest him to leave the bunker and Berlin. Fancying glory, Hitler disagrees quite sternly and continues residing in the bunker with faint hopes of winning the war. All the hopes are broken when Germany disintegrates and crumbles in front of the Red army’s humongous fleet. Shattered by disbelief, Hitler slips into trauma and delusion. While the civilians seek to save themselves from war-time chaos, Hitler and a few subordinates decide to end their lives chronicling the final downfall of the repressive Nazi regime.

Der Untergang undermines an important fact. It was a human, whose occultist neo-pagan religion orchestrated the whole scale industrial genocide of a selective population, through racial and ideological segregation. We can affirm that, the colossal megalomaniac would have felt deep remorse when he had put that bullet through his head on the 30th of April, 1945. Behind the racist and Nazi ideologue, there existed a lover who showed immense passion towards Eva Braun or a caring employer who exhibited consideration towards a young Traudl Junge or a human who had a compassionate soft side for animals. Der Untergang in no way sympathizes with the Nazi regime. It just reminds us that throughout the history of our existence, the tyrants, murderers, slaughterers, as we label them, were mere mortal human beings made of the same flesh and bone we are made of. No person is inherently an evil person. If not that, we can at least believe that one is not innately inclined towards campaigning genocide. Tyrants emerge from feeble and flawed political and religious constitutions. Regardless of the extremity of the indoctrination they allow themselves to be subjected to, the doctrine or the ideology cannot erase their inherent emotive human nature. Der Untergang suffices this fact in an astounding manner.

Apart from its message, this film is an artistic tour de force. Perfectly combining the elements of insanity and agony, Bruno Ganz delivers a monumental performance of the millennium. It is undoubtedly an epitome of acting brilliance and will be hailed as legendary in the cinematic universe. Oliver Hirschbiegel brings Nazi Germany to life with absolute precision and detail. He exhibits the misery and chaos of war in the most gritty and realistic fashion, with the aid of Rainer Klausmann’s dark cinematography and Stephen Zacharias’s stellar score. With superior and surpassing qualities, Der Untergang can be regarded as the greatest World War-II feature film made ever made, till date.

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