Downfall


This movie is about the last 10 days in the life of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.

For anyone (and that includes everyone I guess) who wishes to understand Hitler and the people around him, who collectively caused the death and massacre of some 50M people, this is an important movie – it is a second world war movie, very well directed and shot. It is an absorbing movie as seen through the eyes of a young woman, who was hired as Hitler’s secretary in 1945.

What drove Hitler to make those monumental errors in judgement during the war (the war could have prolonged had it not been for those errors and disobedience of his generals) ? Why was he rendered useless as a leader by people who were actually close to him ? Why was he such a charismatic leader of people – was he really so charismatic or all of that was a carefully archestrated illusion ? Why did people worship him ? What led to the downfall of Berlin ?

These and many other questions might find some answers in this movie. I have to point out that the actor (Bruno Ganz) who performed as Hitler was outstanding – he probably got into the skin of Hitler so well that one tends to conclude that the match of the character with the actor was almost impeccable. He brings out the fact that Hitler was not some animal, he was actually a pretty sensitive human being – many viewers may not like this kind of portrayal though. Hitler’s senility and loss of touch with reality has been depicted rather well.

I am not going to do a psycho-analysis here – what I thought about this movie is that it is a pretty accurate depiction of the last few days in the life of one of the most important criminals of the 20th Century – it might not show why he ordered the murder of millions of innocent Jews, why he waged a war and was responsible for the deaths of millions of young Germans and Russians, why ultimately he decided not to leave Berlin and not to surrender to the Allies, why he surrounded himself with some of the worst criminals in the history of mankind, etc., The fact though is that Adolf Hitler was a dictator with a criminal mind and a mass murderer. But it is also important to see how he interacted with his close circle of people, those who admired him, and those who feared him. This movie brings out some of the traits of the man – mankind will benefit in studying the brain of someone like him who could again come by in this world and we should very carefully eliminate any chances for a third world war which could only be caused by deranged minds.

World today is protected by multi-lateral institutions such as the United Nations (which sometimes does not act soon enough), but the key thing is the ability to intervene and stop massacre. The inability of the United Nations (which did not exist during Hitler’s time) to stop the murder of innocent people around the world, the latest example being that of Syria, calls for further development of global institutions with different models which can protect global citizens irrespective of their national affiliations.

But the movie is worth watching – every minute of it is highly absorbing.

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
24th June 2012
Mumbai

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