September 21, 2005

Downfall Review

I rarely see movies but not long after March of the Penguins I saw Downfall, the story of the last weeks of Hitler and his regime.

And I was disappointed, mostly because I expected too much though given the subject matter I'm not sure what I expected. Brian St. Paul, editor of Crisis, recommended it as one of the top two movies of '05 and I'd wanted to see it anyway, so that was enough.

And it was alright. Instead of seeing Hitler, I kept seeing Richard Nixon: the same stooped posture and sweaty brow, the same sudden ranting followed by calm and the same delusions of escaping his fate.

The story is told from the point of view of Hitler's secretary, an ingenue who really looks the part. She is the platonic ideal of innocence, with perfectly winsome eyes. She struggled her whole life to forgive her younger self for not knowing what she thinks she could've known, namely the evil of Hitler and his regime. How culpable we are for things that we don't know but ought to know is an interesting question the film raised.

Part of the problem is we knew how things were going to turn out even if I, at least, didn't remember that Goring's wife calmly killed each of her six children. That was painful to watch beyond ken; I didn't need to see that. I've seen too much televised evil lately what with National Geographic's special on 9/11 and the destruction caused by Katrina. Time to rent a musical.

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