Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Der Untergang (2004; international English title Downfall; released in the US as The Downfall: Hitler and the End of the Third Reich) is a controversial German film dramatising the final days of Adolf Hitler in 1945. The movie was written by Bernd Eichinger and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. It is based on the eponymous book of historian Joachim Fest about Hitler's final days, and the memories of Traudl Junge, secretary of the Führer.
Played by Bruno Ganz, Hitler is presented as he was: the sick, exhausted man still dreaming of a Greater Germany amid the ruins of a war-ravaged Berlin. As the Red Army draws nearer and imminent defeat looms over the Third Reich, Hitler is seen alone with his clique of Nazis: Joseph Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes ), Albert Speer (Heino Ferch ) and the sinister SS leader Heinrich Himmler (Ulrich Noethen ), as well as his personal staff.
Most of the time, the events are depicted from the perspective of Hitler's young, personal secretary Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara). On the day before his death, Hitler marries his sweetheart Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler ) and they die together in a suicide pact on April 30, 1945, ten days after Hitler's 56th birthday.
The film is neither a paean nor a denunciation of Hitler or the crimes his Nazi regime perpetrated. Instead, it is a testament based on eyewitness accounts and the personal testimony of the people who knew the Führer. The movie incorporates, as introduction and conclusion, the struggle for self-forgiveness of Traudl Junge, as voiced in the documentary Im toten Winkel. It was nominated for the 2004 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in the 77th Academy Awards.
- Fest, Joachim Inside Hitler's Bunker : The Last Days of the Third Reich (ISBN 0374135770)
- Junge, Traudl, and Melissa Müller: Until the Final Hour : Hitler's Last Secretary Published by Arcade Publishing; 1st Us edition (April 2, 2004) ISBN 1559707283
- Der Untergang Official site (in German)
- Der Untergang Official site (in German, Flash)
- Official French site
- Downfall - The Official Movie Website (U.S.A.)
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