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Der Untergang

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by CoolHat, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. I just saw Oliver Hirscbiegel´s film "Der Untergang" and I must say I was very impressed. Definitely one of the most important movies of the year. For those who don´t know, "Der Untergang" ("The Downfall") tells the story of Adolf Hitler´s last days in his bunker in Berlin. It has stirred a lot of controversy in Germany, mainly beacuse many people think it depicts Hitler as "too human". Personally I don´t understand that argument. I think acknowledging Hitler´s "human-ness" is the only way to really learn and prevent these things happening again. Making him some kind of demon from another world will not help.

    That doesn´t mean Hirschbiegel is somehow glorifying Hitler. Quite the contrary, the tone of the film is stark and realistic. And while Hitler does show some empathy and humane emotions (especially towards his stenographer), most of the time he is just the raving lunatic we all know. But even at his craziest Hitler is chillingly real and the credit goes to actor Bruno Ganz. His work is truly marvelous and perhaps gives us a little understanding on why Hitler had such an mesmerizing effect on people.

    BTW, I read that Ganz carefully studied the tapes that Finnish army secretly recorded when Hitler was here on marshal Mannerheim´s 75th birthday. These tapes are the only known recordings of Hitler speaking casually and "naturally", as opposed to his public speeches, which were mostly shouting and more shouting.

    I wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone interested in history. It´s not the lightest of movies, but it isn´t overtly bloody either, so even people with weak stomachs can handle it. Anyone else seen it yet?
  2. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Is it a documentary? Or is it an "artist's rendition?" Either way, I've never heard of the title.
  3. Eyescream


    Feb 4, 2004
    Knoxville, TN
    I've never heard of it, but I'd like to see it. I wonder if it's out in the US.
  4. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I saw the Discovery series on Himmler the other day. I don't think anyone is worse than that guy.

  5. canopener


    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    I can think of a few, but I don't want to turn this thread "ugly." But he was up there. Anybody else seen this film?
  6. erik II

    erik II

    Jul 11, 2000
    Oslo, Norway
    You're early... it opens here in a couple of weeks.
  7. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    Hmm... like
    - Stalin
    - Mao
    - Pol Pot

    and others. Curiously, these people are somehow "overlooked" compared to Hitler; meanwhile, these were even worse than he was. Stalin is responsible for the death of ~45-50 million people, Mao for ~45-63 million, and Pol Pot had ver 1,7 million people killed in just 3 years - that was about 15% of the total population of the country... Pol Pot even had those killed who were more intelligent then he was; everyone wearing glasses were shot as it was a sign of intelligence...
    In the early carreer of Stalin, when he got rid of Lenin and got power, the communist inner party had a vote, and they voted for Kirov, and against Stalin. He got to know of this, made the 300 people counting the votes "disappear", and falsified the vote. Later, those over 1000 party members who voted, disappeared one by one; one day, his rival, Kirov was assassinated. Then he gave a big speech that those who killed his dear friend Kirov shall be brought to justice. With this, he had the rest of his opposition killed, and everyone who was just a slight bit suspicious. He even killed two thirds of his armies leaders, thats why the soviet army was so weak when the Germans attacked.
    Also, for example, most party members got appartments in a big block of houses built for them. The apartments had a secret extra room for the KBG filled with bugs and other eavesdropping devices, and a secret door with a secret stairway to a tunnel, so they can be carried away and executed anytime, if they say anything suspicious.
    Stalin and mao and Pol Pot were total paranoids, and killed everyone even slightly suspicious; also a big part of their toll comes from forcing the communist ideology of exonomy, which caused very severe famines (~25-43 million in China).

    BTW did anyone hear that Hitler had some malady to which doctors gave him strong drugs, even narcotics, starting around 1938-39. Later, he seems to have lost contact with reality - in other words, went mad. He did all of his gruesome acts while he was already mad - however, Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot and the other commie tyrants were not medically mad when they comitted all their crimes
  8. It is "fiction", but it has been extensively researched. I believe It´s based on the memoirs of Hitler´s stenographer, who was with him all the way to the end.

    Here´s a link to the official site:


    Opens in US in february 18th.
  9. The film certainly suggests so. Hitler had violent mood swings and his left hand shaked uncontrollably. During the film his physical condition deteriorates to the point where he could barely walk. It is also indicated that in the end Hitler was heavily influenced by Goebbels. His generals (Weidling in particular) tried to speak sense to him, but Goebbels fed him with visions of grandeur. That´s one of the reasons why he never surrendered, even though the situation was totally hopeless.

    Again, very interesting film. While it might not offer anything new to those who have studied Hitler and the downfall of the Third Reich, it has an uniquely realistic and down-to-earth point of view to those historical events. It´s a film that needed to be made, and it was needed to be made by Germans. No one else could have given it such an authenticity.
  10. To the Americans - It's nominated for Best Foreign Film at this year's Academy Awards

    I bet it's worth watching, maybe I'll get around to seeing it sometime soon.
  11. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    I'm going to stick with Himmler. He did worse stuff than the ones you listed Frank. After watching that documentary, he "wins".

  12. What makes Himmler so creepy is that he had no qualms about sending myriads of people to death, but couldn't stomach the sight of their blood.

    Stalin was probably creepier.
  13. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    These are pretty high estimates... others place them at 40M for Mao, 20M for Stalin and 34M for Hitler. Nevertheless, there's a point you get to where "x is more evil than y" is meaningless.

    That's bull. The Holocaust started long before the cattle trucks went to Auschwitz, the intent was there long before the implimentation.

  14. IMO Hitler's ideas never would have reached the level of fruition that occured, in the absence of Himmler's ability as the "Chief Architect" of the "Final Solution", and Goebbels' propaganda talents.

    Of course we are historically aware of the atrocities of Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot. What differentaites the these three from Hitler, and why their actions are not held in the same light, is that they were not waging war outside their borders during their "purges". Does this make a difference? Morally no, politically, probably. The world tends to turn a blind eye to atrocities as long as the country involved is not a threat to any other country's soveriegnty.

    Even when they threaten another country we are apt to ignore them until it becomes blatant. Examine Saddam Hussein's annexation of Kuwait vs. Hitler's annexation of the Sudatenland (sp) in both cases the agression was justified under the premise of reclaiming territory previously lost under treaty negotiations. Also consider the attempted genocide of the Kurdish people, proof again that it is allright as long as no one represents the victims in the court of world opinion.
  15. Frank Martin

    Frank Martin Bitten by the luthiery bug...

    Oct 8, 2001
    Budapest, Hungary, EU
    I've written an essay on the subject a few years ago and these were the numbers. And Hitler is nowhere near 34 million. If you blame the entire WWII on him, then maybe; otherwise, it's 12-13 million.
    What makes Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot even more evil in my opinion, is that they were constantly lying. hitler stated clearly early on in his book what he wanted to do. Communism, however, was all about propaganda and keeping people in fear.
    Anyway, they are all evil. But sadly "commnism didnt have its Nürnberg"

    No, that's not what I said. Hitler was antisemitic in the beginning, and he wrote about it in Mein Kampf. However, don't forget that killing everyone was not Hitler's intention from the beginning, the "final solution" only came by when he went mad. For example, at first - before the war - he wanted to deport every jew and others to Madagascar.
  16. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    Here's a website which deals with the numbers better than I can. If you click where it says sources, he discusses the range of estimates typically given.


    I don't know. I find the idea that he never really meant to exterminate the Jewish race in the beginning and that somehow the Nazis were unable to contain his sudden irrationality in 1941 extremely hard to swallow. It was the logical culmination of the previous decade's policy.

    I also find it distasteful and inappropriate to explain away evil such as the genocide of the holocaust as an act of insanity. It kind of excuses away responsibility, don't you think? He did not act alone.
  17. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    You gotta remember Mao, Stalin, and Pol Pot weren't genocidal, merely, fierce, poor leaders. Mao's people starved to death, they weren't shot in the face. Stalin worked people to death in the gulags.

    I'm not saying they're not as bad as Hitler (they're probably worse), I'm saying that Hitler is different because he wasn't just killing his own people through some political change (Mao). He was just looney tunes and a genocidal one at that. Furthermore, he didn't kill his own people in an attempt to acheive something. He ousted a race and tried to wipe them out. Others have done that, Hitler was just the first to do so concurrent with mass media.

    So, y'know, it's a little different. That said, I agree with the comment that humanizing Hitler isn't a bad thing. If he's just an aloof monster, we'll never really understand the actual (and horrific) truth that normal, everyday people are whack jobs.
  18. Wow there's some deep s**t here I guess were kinda lucky now days but the poor people that died for no reason back then
  19. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    "Reason" seems to be something that exists only in the present, and doesn't hold up well to the passage of time.
  20. Some good conversation here, I just hope it doesn´t get too political and hence locked :bag:

    Back to the original topic: "Der Untergang" really is something exceptional. It´s been two days since I saw it and I still can´t stop thinking about it. I´m pretty picky when it comes to movies and it has been a long time since any new film has had such an powerful impact on me. I think I´ll have to go all the way back to Von Trier´s "Dancer In The Dark" to find similar feeling.

    Since no one else seems to have seen Hirschbiegel´s film yet, I´ll have to discuss it by myself. IMO one of the things that makes "Der Untergang" so powerful is the way it builds the atmosphere inside the bunker. The scenes leading to Hitler´s suicide are particularly forceful. The feeling of futility and hopelessness (is that a real word?) is just overwhelming; everyone knows the judgement is right around the corner and it won´t be merciful. "Downfall" is the exact right word to describe the whole mess.

    Indeed, the atmosphere is so depressing that you just can´t help feeling sorry for Hitler himself. In the end you don´t see him as the personification of all evil, you only see a decrepit old man (a premature one at that, he was only 56) whose dreams have been shattered, who is filled with hate (even towards his own people) and has absolutely nothing to live for. And therein lies the irony: you feel empathy for the man who fiercely despised empathy in all its forms.

    The film does inevitably lose some of it´s drive after Hitler leaves the stage. But I think they made the right decision by not ending the movie with Hitlers death, it would have been too melodramatic.

    Sorry for the rant, but as I said, it´s been a long time - too long - since I have really been moved by a movie. I just needed to vent a bit.