[[caption-width-right:257:''The first casualty of war is innocence'']]
->''"As childish as it sounds, the winter time and the sight of freshly fallen snow always fill us with inexplicable joy. Perhaps because as children, we associated it with Christmas. I always imagined myself the hero who killed dragons, rescued virgins, and freed the world from evil. As we went out yesterday to find the prisoners, I felt like that little boy who wanted to save the world."''
'''''Before The Fall''''' (also known as '''''Napola - Elite für den Führer''''', or ''[=NaPolA=]: Hitler's Elite'') is a 2004 drama film directed and written by Creator/DennisGansel.
[[UsefulNotes/NaziGermany The year is 1942.]] Having come to the schools' attention as a promising young boxer, working-class teenager Friedrich receives a scholarship to an exclusive boarding school, designed to groom the younger generation for leadership positions in the Nazi Party. When his parents refuse to let him attend, he [[TheRunaway runs away from home and falsifies their consent]] in order to attend. The camaraderie and opportunities afforded are at first a blessing, and he soon finds friends, including Albrecht, the introverted son of a high-ranking official. But as the year goes on the ugliness and violent hazing hiding beneath the school's idyllic surface become clear, with serious consequences for both boys.
'''This work contains examples of:'''
* AcademyOfEvil: Well, the film takes place in a ''Nazi boarding school.'' The physical education is punishingly harsh, the supervision is callous at best, and the classroom assignments naturally reinforce party rhetoric.
* AccidentalHug: [[spoiler:Minus the "moment of joy" in the usual way this trope is played. Albrecht and Friedrich [[IKnowYoureInThereSomewhereFight get into a fistfight in a bathroom]], and just end up collapsed in each other's arms, clinging to one another and crying.]]
* BasedOnATrueStory: The academy featured is fictional, but such schools did exist from 1933 until the end of the war; the filmmaker's grandfather attended one.
* BearerOfBadNews: Some very young students receive the news their father has been killed in action at dinner.
* BloodSplatteredInnocents: [[http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7mtgdyMXk1r55df5o2_500.png You bet.]] Overlapping with JumpingOnAGrenade below, probably the only time in film where a trench full of Hitler Youth has constituted "innocents".
* BoardingSchool: Starting out as a classic example of the camaraderie-and-midnight-pranks kind, quickly revealing itself to be a BoardingSchoolOfHorrors.
* ChildSoldiers: While the students at Allenstein are ostensibly being prepared for all manner of government positions when the war is over, they ultimately amount to this, ages ranging between eleven and eighteen years old.
* ConflictingLoyalty: Friedrich is first torn between his family and the opportunity offered by the National Political Academy, and then [[spoiler:between his loyalty to Albrecht and what is morally right, and the security Nazism offers at a terrible price.]]
* CorporalPunishment: Of the military/public humiliation variety.
* DespairEventHorizon: [[spoiler:The shooting of the Russian boys is one of these for Albrecht.]]
* DownerEnding: [[spoiler:Albrecht drowns himself during a school exercise, while Friedrich can only watch. Friedrich leaves the school in disgrace, stripped of his uniform. The real-life downer ending is delivered in the film's epilogue, stating that when the end of the war 'was near, the by-now fully indoctrinated young students left at the military academies were sent out to fight regardless of their level of practical preparation. Over half died.]]
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:Albrecht, after realizing the horror of what he's complicit in.]]
* FantasyForbiddingFather: It's implied Albrecht's father disapproves of his son's hobby of writing, refusing to read his compositions.
* ForegoneConclusion: Germany's going to lose the war, and either way the boys of the academy aren't going to come out looking good.
* GenreSavvy: Friedrich's parents would rather he didn't attend the special sinister Nazi school, thanks.
* GrowingUpSucks: The gist of [[spoiler:Albrecht's]] final class composition, and the film in general.
* GymClassHell: Truth in television for the National Political Academies.
* HeelRealization: When [[spoiler: the dangerous escapees the students are sent out to shoot turn out to be unarmed boys, later crystallized in Albrecht's reading of his composition in class. Albrecht lacks the full awareness of what's going on that modern viewers have, but he clearly realizes he's part of something desperately wrong.]]
* HopeSpot: There's brief moments of idyllic happiness at the academy, including a scene where the boys build and successfully fly a wooden glider. But it doesn't last.
* MeasuringDay: A rather grim subversion; the physical exam Friedrich gets upon entering the school includes the usual data (height, weight, physical wellness) but also measuring his skull with calipers and [[MasterRace checking his blue eyes and blond hair against a set of color swatches from most to least Aryan]]. He passes with flying colors, but put in the context of those who would fail such a test, the scene is chilling.
* NaziNobleman: Albrecht's family, though they may simply be upwardly mobile as his father gained power and influence within the party.
* ThePeepingTom: Somewhat more benignly, Albrecht and Friedrich bond while trying to watch one of the few women around the academy undressing in her room after dark.
* SceneryPorn: Has some seriously beautiful cinematography.
* SensitiveGuyAndManlyMan: Albrecht is a dark-haired, sensitive, somewhat weedy boy whose hobby is creative writing; Friedrich is a blond-haired, robust, slightly pig-headed boxer.
* TrainingAccident: The students are hauled out in the dead of night to help in hunting down some dangerous Russian prisoners of war who are hiding in the woods. While the situation isn't entirely a setup, it's clearly intended to test the boys' mettle, until it goes horribly off the rails.
* WordOfGay: No, not [[YaoiBoys Albrecht and Friedrich... we think,]] but the [[FanDisservice vicious prefect who picks on one of the boys for wetting the bed]].
* [[WhyAreYouNotMySon Why Are You Not My Son?]]: Albrecht's father, an emotionally distant officer, is clearly comparing him unfavorably to Friedrich.