Downfall movie a box office hit in Germany
This past weekend, 480,000 filmgoers all over Germany lined up to get tickets for the €13.5 million (US$16.5m) Downfall / Der Untergang, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s controversial World War II drama depicting Adolf Hitler’s last 12 days in his underground bunker. The figures for Downfall were deemed particularly impressive since the nearly three-hour-long production only allowed two screenings per evening. Bruno Ganz, the angel who becomes human in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire, stars as the Nazi leader. (Photo: Bruno Ganz as Hitler, Downfall movie.)
In an interview for the Bild tabloid, former German chancellor Helmut Kohl declared that Downfall "was a film that had to be made and I hope that as many people as possible will see it." The former chancellor added, "It is an important film because it gives the younger generation an introduction to how people were very much led astray by National Socialism."
Downfall movie not a critical favorite in Germany
Some German critics, however, have been considerably less impressed than Helmut Kohl. "The German public will see a film that is far too long, ridiculous and ultimately banal," wrote the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. "[Producer Bernd] Eichinger and his director have involuntarily turned out the worst comedy of the year."
Der Spiegel magazine, which had earlier featured Downfall on its cover, was equally dismissive, stating "One does not need a €13 million film which is about as harmless and superficial as a television soap opera to make the banal observation that humankind can be evil."
On a dissenting note, Toronto Star film critic Peter Howell picked Downfall as one of his twelve favorite movies at this year’s Toronto Film Festival.
Bruno Ganz / Hitler Downfall movie photo: Constantin Film.