This shattering entry chronicles the last days of World War II in a crumbling and encircled Berlin, from the vantage point of the ever-tightening circle around broken down, delusional Adolf Hitler (Ganz). Seen mainly through the eyes of his young secretary Traudl Junge (Lara), the film faithfully recreates events leading to Germany's unconditional surrender, while painting a vivid character study of Hitler and his small but faithful retinue. A palpable sense of dread and claustrophobia builds throughout the film, as the day of reckoning approaches when the once-proud Fuhrer must admit to the utter failure of his twisted vision.
Why we love it
This film’s intense yet intimate portrayal of Hitler’s slow-motion demise has the crazy, nightmarish feel of a Bosch painting. Ganz renders Hitler so expertly that the effect is spooky, as if the dead had been brought back to life. Other searing performances come from Juliane Kohler as a curiously cheery, detached Eva Braun, and both Ulrich Matthes and Corinna Harfouch make your blood run cold playing the ever loyal Josef and Magda Goebbels. Finally, the delicate, wide-eyed Lara beguiles as Traudl, a mostly innocent lamb placed by fate right in the center of the wolf's lair. “Downfall” was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, and with good reason.