Downfall Oliver Hirschbiegel

After all of the shouting, weeping, shooting, poisoning and general nastiness of this film's "last ten days of the Third Reich," the question you have to ask is: what was it all for? And not about the war — about the movie! Perhaps director Oliver Hirschbiegel had some explanation for how shutting us in the least revelatory stage of the war with Hitler's inner-circle ghouls was supposed to shed light on Nazism, but to these eyes the whole thing is just a genocidal version of Royal-watching (first Himmler did this, then Goebbels did this, and then Hitler…). At first this is merely tedious, shot in that crisp historical drama way that minimises emotion, but pretty soon people start talking suicide and the whole thing becomes unpleasantly traumatic. Search as you might, there's nothing to be gleaned other than life in Hitler's bunker really, really sucked. That the war is treated as an internal matter amongst Aryan Germans (the word "Jew" is mentioned exactly once) doesn't help, but it fits the ambiance of the film: Hirschbeigel and company are trapped in their own bunker, left with only publicity spin to sustain them until the Oscar nominations come. Bruno Ganz makes an excellent Hitler, in case you were wondering. Extras on the two-disc special edition start with a director's commentary on disc one, with Hirschbiegel giving historical background that is at once completely thorough and utterly useless to anybody looking for reasons why. Disc two features interviews with Hirschbiegel, Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, and Juliane Kohler, with author Melissa Muller offering background on secretary/audience Traudl Junge; Ganz comes off seeming the most intelligent. A lengthy "making of" featurette offers various participants in various stages of self-regarding denial, while a final nebulous feature offers the director pointing out non-information on some on-set footage. (Alliance Atlantis)