For the 13th TMR Movie Roundtable we welcome back our good friends Frank Johnson, Antony Rotunno and Mark Campbell for a discussion on the superb 2004 German-language war drama, Downfall ("Der Untergang") starring Bruno Ganz and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.
Based in part upon the memoirs of Hitler's last personal secretary, Gertraud "Traudl" Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara), Downfall tells the story of the final ten days of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. As the Red Army closes in on Berlin in late April 1945, Hitler (Bruno Ganz) and those closest to him retreat to the Führerbunker, an elaborate air raid shelter next to the Reich Chancellery. Sitting in his Map Room, Hitler fantasises about a Third Reich victory and continues to make futile plans for his depleted forces. He berates his generals for cowardice and betrayal and ignores all advice that he should leave Berlin, preferring instead to die if the war is lost. As the realisation dawns that defeat is imminent, Hitler—still refusing to see fault in himself, but ony in those around him—swiftly marries his long-term partner Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler), and the two prepare a suicide pact. After the deadly deed is done (or is it?*), Joseph Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes) assumes the role of leader for one brief day, as he and his wife Magda (Corinna Harfouch) extend the insane ideology so far as to take the lives of their own six children in order to "save" them from a life without Hitler and the Third Reich, after which they too commit suicide. Swiftly thereafter comes unconditional surrender, as Traudl and others disappear into the Soviet lines and escape into the countryside.
Join us as we disuss the production, consider if there are any lessons to learn for today, * and talk briefly (without reaching any firm conclusions) about the possibility that Hitler and Eva escaped from the Bunker and fled to Argentina.
[Traudl Junge, Joachim Fest, Oliver Hirschenbiegel, Bernd Eichinger, Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Ulrich Matthes, Corinna Harfouch, Juliane Köhler, Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun, Joseph Goebbels, Magda Goebbels, Albert Speer, Berlin, cyanide, Gerrard Williams, Grey Wolf, Peter Baumgart, Argentina]