See No Evil?
Very few movies have been made about Adolf Hitler, the traditional reasoning being that to do so would be to humanize him. Then along comes this year's "Downfall," a controversial German film that recounts the last days of the Third Reich, seen from the point of view of the inhabitants of a hideout bunker below the Reichstag. Though palsied, bent over and looking more like a lost puppet than any mastermind of world domination, Hitler holds court in the claustrophobic, doomed atmosphere. What is astonishing is the Messianic devotion of his bunker companions as well as periodic visitors who throw themselves at Hitler's feet as if he were God. I wonder what the German people would have thought about their precious Hitler if they could have heard him tell a general trying to save women, children and the ill and elderly from the Russians who were torching Berlin, "Who cares about the people? They asked for it." As to whether the film humanizes Hitler, I would have to agree with those who feared that it would. But maybe that's the point. The new Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem has exchanged its old exhibits of anonymous death with personal mementoes of those who were tortured and put to death to show future generations that suffering has names and faces. So does evil.
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