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Downfall Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Against the overarching facts of his personal magnetism and the blind loyalty of his lieutenants, the movie observes the workings of the world within the bunker. All power flowed from Hitler. He was evil, mad, ill, but long after Hitler's war was lost he continued to wage it in fantasy.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    One of the best war movies ever made, Downfall is a powerful and artistically masterful re-creation of the last days of the Third Reich.

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  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    Downfall, whatever its shortcomings, bears strong witness to great evil. That is its triumph as a film.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    If I respect Downfall more than I was enthralled by it, that's because its portayal stops short of revelation. Once you witness Hitler's denial, the film has little more to say about him.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Powerfully disturbing.

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  • 90

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    As a piece of filmmaking, it's stunningly effective.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 17+

Provocative look at Hitler's last days is extremely violent.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Downfall tells the story of the last days in Hitler's bunker, contrasting between the increasingly violent bombings outside in Berlin, and the panicked scramble of those in Hitler's inner circle as they realize their grip on power is slipping. There is a relentlessly graphic pace of explosions, murders, suicides, and bloodshed, and one particularly macabre scene of six children being poisoned by their mother. Though the film is considered largely historically accurate and provides a great deal of insight into the nature of war and power, it's not without controversy for the accusations that it portrays evil too sympathetically by attempting to humanize it. Best viewed by very mature teens who've studied World War 2, have prior understanding of the Holocaust, and are prepared to ponder complex questions about what is among the darkest, most brutal events in human history.

  • Families can talk about the delusional loyalty of some of Hitler's inner circle. Why do you think so many people were loyal to someone with such a capacity for evil? Were they selfish? Or blind?
  • The film has received criticism for being too sympathetic to characters whose actions in the film are taken only from their own accounts in memoirs, and for potentially glorifying their actions as somehow noble, rather than barbaric. What do you make of the portrayal of Traudl Junge as an innocent secretary? Or Dr. Ernst-Gunther Schenck as a humane doctor? Or General Wilhelm Mohnke as attempting to behave humanely? What about Adolf Hitler? Did he seem humanized in a way that threatens to undermine his crimes?
  • Traudl Junge expresses remorse for her role as Hitler's secretary, remarking that "being young is no excuse" for not knowing about the crimes of the Holocaust or the death of six million Jews. She ponders what she could have done differently. Do you think it is possible for Junge to have "known better" than to take a job as Hitler's secretary? What do you make of her assessment of her own complicity in the Third Reich? Is she too easy on herself?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: In spite of the incredibly bleak subject matter, there is a sense of hopefulness that such reigns of terror inevitably cannot last, that there can be good people even among the horrors of war, that there is a kind of humanity even in the worst among us.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Aside from perhaps a handful of invented characters as plot devices, these are largely historical figures represented as complex in spite of their allegiance to a terrible regime. However, there are a few examples of those who attempt to act humanely or ethically in the context of a brutal war's end, and a few characters who are, at the very least, innocent because they are ignorant to the war's atrocities due to their youth or naivet (often both).

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: The film contains a near-relentless pace of wartime atrocities and their accompanying bloodshed, including bombs, explosions, dead bodies, graphic murders, and nearly a dozen suicides by gunshot, multiple scenes of execution-style deaths by individuals or death squads, piles of severed limbs, limbs being sawed off to amputate, and several graphic scenes of poison by cyanide capsule, gunshots to the mouth or head, and a mass grave of burned corpses, sometimes including those of children. There are multiple scenes in which people are dragged to be hanged, or shown hanged. In what is a particularly sickening scene, a woman gives her six children liquid morphine to drink, then feeds them cyanide capsules in their sleep. Additionally, a dog is given a cyanide capsule to test its efficacy, and is heard dropping to the floor (but not shown).

  • sex false3

    Sex: In multiple scenes, women are shown topless. In one scene, a woman is shown naked on a bed, presumably after intercourse.

  • language false2

    Language: Language is harsh and macabre, with multiple explicit references to killing or murdering those believed to be traitors to Nazi Germany with phrases such as "slit their throats, "drown in their own blood," or "put a bullet in their head."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Casual smoking is seen throughout the film. Drinking is a constant presence, either in scenes of debauched, end-times partying, to steel one's reserve in the face of horror, or to dull the pain of injury or surrender.