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Posted at 4:52 PM ET, 03/21/2005

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.

By  | March 21, 2005; 4:52 PM ET
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What is most amazing to me about this film is that it is taken 60 years for this story to reach this level of exposure. It leaves one breathless. I could not think of a more perfect title for this work. There has never been a more focused and complete downfall in history. Somewhat oddly the closest parallel to this film seems to be "Gone with the Wind".

Posted by: Silver Spring | March 22, 2005 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I have yet to see this film (trying to get a babysitter) but one thing that stands out in the reviews I have read and like your reviewer says: "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." That would be percisely the point...he was a human being and human beings are capable of doing the most horrible things to other human beings, and they do, repeatedly, then and now. Like Pogo said, "we have met the enemy and he is us".

Posted by: Tim | March 22, 2005 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Best film I've seen this year so far (it is early), but it's absolutely brilliant! A Must See!

Posted by: | March 22, 2005 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I think if we demonize Hitler too much we can forget that people are capable of such horrors, and the complicity of the German people.

Posted by: Greg | March 22, 2005 4:57 PM | Report abuse

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