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YMMV / Downfall (Film)

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Speer suggests to a bedridden Magda Goebbels that her plan to kill her children is rooted more in having personally crossed the Despair Event Horizon than a genuine belief that the world will not be worth living in once National Socialism is gone. She goes through with it, but the question remains.
  • Anvilicious: Hitler was a human. An evil human, but human regardless.
  • Award Snub:
    • Bruno Ganz was un-nominated for his humanizing but still sociopathic portrayal of Hitler, very likely because that particular role is a controversy magnet no matter how much talent he displayed playing him.
    • The film itself also didn't win the Oscar for best foreign-language film.
  • Awesome Music: Given the subject matter, the score is sporadic and woefully depressing, but Stephan Zacharias' work is absolutely wonderful, setting and reflecting the mood of the film perfectly. Der Krieg Ist Aus and Hoffnung Am Ende Der Welt in particular may be capable of inducing Manly Tears.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Out of nowhere through a very dark and depressing movie comes an unexpected moment when one of the children is telling Traudl Junge how he likes it when it "thunders", since nothing can get them inside the bunker. Right at that moment, we hear the sound of Hitler shooting himself offscreen. The kid's gleeful response? "Bullseye!" It's shockingly hilarious in context, not to mention strangely cathartic for everyone in the audience.
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  • Cry for the Devil: It is easy to pity Hitler's downfall with Bruno Ganz's incredibly emotional performance.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: A number of viewers think that the Goebbels murdered their children to prevent them from being tortured to death by the Soviets, conveniently ignoring the fact that Albert Speer made two attempts to persuade them to let him take the children with him, only to be refused. They also more or less explicitly declare that they are doing so because they think a Germany that isn't ruled by Hitler (or one in which, Heaven forbid, "racially inferior subhumans" are treated as people) isn't worth living in.
    • There's also the historical context to consider: both Josef and Magda declared, prior to their deaths, that their children "belonged to the Führer", and thus should follow him in death, with the former even crazily declaring that, were the children old enough to understand, they'd gladly take their own lives—which is destroyed by a Soviet autopsy report that indicates Helga regained consciousness and tried to resist her killer(s)—and the latter even asking a friend to help her carry out the deed should her resolve falter; the children of other high-ranking Nazis were spared after the war; and sparing the six children would have likely served as a big PR boost for the Soviets.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Fegelein, seeing how much he's used in the parody videos.
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  • Fan Disservice: Several topless women appear in the brothel where Fegelein hides out, but the overall movie rather nullifies any potential sexiness.
  • Genius Bonus: Hitler's ranting about how he conquered Europe "all by myself" and how his generals are "useless, incompetent cowards" makes a lot more sense if one knows about the decision-making in the early campaigns of World War II, where Hitler would often overrule Oberkommando and get great success as a result, while leaving High Command to their own devices handed him disasters like Kursk. The best example of this would be the Battle of France, where Oberkommando suggested a slow campaign that would (at the most optimistic projections) take two years and cost over a million casualties, which Hitler bypassed by approving Manstein's Plan for an aggressive breakthrough at Sedan which saw France conquered in six weeks with 160,000 casualties. This colored his perceptions for the rest of the war.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Hitler, of all people. While a horrible monster, he's portrayed as a broken down man.
    • Fegelein is also portrayed as this in the film. A Nazi, an opportunist, a deserter… and a young man who just wants to live, unlike his lunatic fellow men determined to die for a crazy ideology that has totally blown up in their faces.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The scene where Hitler snaps upon hearing that there are no reinforcements to be mobilized to aid Berlin has been subject to many YouTube videos where different subtitles are given to amusing effect, including, but not limited to Hitler getting banned from Xbox Live, essentially turning Hitler into an all-out Drama Queen. It's become so popular that it got an entire page dedicated to his misadventures.
    • It even got parodied in Er Ist Wieder Da (Look Who's Back), a movie about Hitler waking up in the 21st century, by filming a sequence about a network's tanking ratings as a shot-for-shot recreation of the bunker scene. While it's not Hitler who rants this time (rather the boss of the media company), Hitler is still nearby.
    • To a lesser extent, the scene where Hitler declares Fegelein a traitor has undergone the same treatment.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Just in case you were actually thinking of sympathizing with the poor, broken down old Hitler, he starts boasting about his genocide and treats the surviving Germans with contempt. In his case, he's very aware of this and admits right before killing himself that he would soon be hated the world over.
    • Herr and Frau Goebbels, of course, display some very unusual attitudes toward family values.
  • Nausea Fuel: The Schenck/Hasse operating scene is both this, Nightmare Fuel, and Squick.
  • Narm:
    • Hitler's over-the-top rants can be hard to take seriously, especially if anyone has seen the Hitler Rants meme before watching the movie.
    • Many, many, many of the movie's dubs. Here's a sample from the French dub.
    • The Fegelein rant also gets this in the Spanish dub, to some degree:
    Hitler: [rough English translation] What do you mean you can't find him? He's not invisible! Search for him conscientiously!
    • During Hitler's cremation, there's an extreme close-up on Goebbels' creepy, sunken face with the flames reflected in his eyes as he stares into the fire with the most hysterically intense "tonight, you die" face imaginable. For some people, it's so frighteningly over-the-top and insane-looking that it crosses the line from creepy into distractingly hilarious.
  • Narm Charm: It is somewhat hard to take Hitler seriously in his rants after all the parodies, but Bruno Ganz's performance is still incredible at portraying Hitler as a mad yet broken man feeling betrayed by all of his men and facing the hopeless destruction of the German state that he worked so hard to build, despite the millions of deaths and ruined lives that he and his regime are responsible for.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The most obvious examples are when the viewer first sees children trying to hold back the Soviets and the notorious scene when Hitler snaps.
    • Towards the end of the film there's a string of suicides, most of them are off-screen but we have a close-up of Franz Schädle who shoots himself very suddenly in the face in the middle of a makeshift hospital.
    • Also, Ernst-Robert Grawitz uses grenades to kill himself and his family during an otherwise serene dinner. And that's just the tip of the iceberg as far as cruelty to kids in this film goes.
    • Goebbels' face. Those cheekbones and wide, sunken-in eyes can look pretty creepy.
    • The infamous rant is pretty frightening (if one ignores all the parodies). Hitler becomes a tornado of fury, ready to lash out at everyone.
    • The German soldier who is in the middle of having his leg amputated in the makeshift hospital.
  • Nightmare Retardant: The Hitler Parodies have made Hitler's rants considerably less terrifying.
  • Signature Scene: The scene of Hitler's Villainous Breakdown upon hearing of Steiner's failure to launch a counterattack on the Soviets; particularly because it's known for being the moment that launched a million memes. In the 2012 Sight & Sound poll (in which critics from around the world get together and list their top 10 films), UK critic Kaleem Aftab chose this scene for his top 10, saying, "Bruno Ganz's performance as Hitler is so brilliant in showing his disgust at the failure of Steiner to attack the allies that the scene has been used and abused by legions of Internet users around the world, replacing the original subtitles to comment on current affairs –- it's the gift that won't stop giving."
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Hirschbiegel said that the purpose of the film is to make the Nazis feel human and not just monsters one can dismiss as nothing like oneself. Also, War Is Hell.
  • Tough Act to Follow: For Oliver Hirschbiegel. None of his later films were as successful as this film, even attempting to do a Downfall-esque movie called 13 Minutes (about German worker Georg Elser who attempted to assassinate Hitler through a bomb) with little fanfare.
  • True Art Is Angsty: Hoo boy. This movie is about as angtsy as a WWII film can get short of falling into parody.
  • Watch It for the Meme: It must be something of a Periphery Demographic of the Hitler Bunker clips who thinks, "Wow, a subtitled German film about the last days of World War II — I gotta see this!" A parody clip is fairly popular in Greece, due to a satirical TV show.
  • "Weird Al" Effect: It's hard to take the original "Hitler rant" scene seriously once you've seen the numerous Gag Sub spoofs of the scene.


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