For years now, YouTube has been flooded with a very specific meme. The cinematic riff has many incarnations, but the basic foundation is a scene from a German drama outfitted with hilarious new subtitles. The scene depicts a distraught Adolf Hitler being given an obvious piece of bad news, dismissing most of the people in the room, and then launching into an epic tirade. The inserted subtitles tend to deal with a changing cavalcade of petty, topical irritations—everything from cancelled XBOX Live accounts to the collapse of HD-DVD. No doubt you have seen this meme, but what about the movie from whence it came?
That film is 2004’s Downfall and we strongly suggest you consider adding this newly streaming Netflix title to your queue.
Who Made It: Given that this is a foreign film, the names of those involved aren’t likely to grab you or present a convincing argument for its viewing. However, director Oliver Hirschbiegel is one of Germany’s most acclaimed filmmakers. He has been nominated for, and won, several awards for his various films. Downfall was actually nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in 2005. In addition to his numerous German films, Hirschbiegel also directed Invasion, Warner Brothers’ 2007 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Who’s In It: German actor Bruno Ganz plays the role of Adolf Hitler in Downfall. Ganz may not be a household name stateside, but he’s been in plenty of recognizable films both foreign and domestic. He starred in Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire, the film that would later be remade as City of Angels starring Nicolas Cage. He has also appeared in Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth, the Oscar-winning Kate Winslet film The Reader, and the Liam Neeson actioner Unknown.
What’s It About: Downfall charts the last days of the Third Reich. The film opens in May of 1945 as Russian forces are bombing and invading Berlin. Defeat looming, Adolf Hitler wrestles with the collapse of his empire. A young woman, just hired as Hitler’s secretary, serves as the threadline of the plot and it’s through her eyes that we view the story.
Why You Should Watch It: Downfall is a powerful historical drama filled with passionate performances and stunning cinematography. The film utilizes an interesting mixture of universal sentiments and juxtaposes them against purely humanistic storytelling. Sure, Hitler is a loathsome example of humanity and has earned every one of the bilious connotations his name conjures. But this is a story about the collapse of an empire the scale of which had not been seen since ancient Rome, and Hitler is the malevolent, overly ambitious emperor watching his kingdom crash down around him. It takes historical context and transforms it into Greek tragedy.
And while yes, there is a certain amount of disconnect created in the fact that we are not saddened by the fall of the Nazi party, it in no way deludes the drama. This film is really about a woman who, against her better judgment, took a prestige job working for a man who, to many Germans at the time, was something akin to a demigod. She has no ambition to dominate the world or hatred toward any race of people. We witness these events objectively through her eyes and the film becomes more about the affective response of an entire nation during one of its greatest upheavals. A scene where Mrs. Goebbels is poisoning her children as they sleep because she can’t bear the thought of any of them living with the disgrace of defeat is like something out of Shakespeare. The film doesn’t attempt to absolve anyone, and in fact is bookended with footage of Hitler’s actual secretary who claims her naivety does not excuse her sin of collusion.
Bruno Ganz’s performance as Adolf Hitler is absolutely unbelievable. He occupies so many distinctive personalities within one human being to communicate the madness of the dictator’s final days. He switches between unflappable faith in Germany’s ability to win the war to morose resignation to his ultimate failure so abruptly and frequently, and without any hint of recognition that he has done so, that you get the sense that the man no longer has even a tenuous grasp on reality. That scene, which has now become Internet parody lore, is actually simultaneously horrifying and crushing. We are horrified to contemplate the outcome of this tirade, but as we pan across the reactions of the staff, we see in their eyes the agonizing realization that the war is lost and their country is doomed.
It’s far from lighthearted and, at over two and a half hours, requires no small commitment from the viewer, but Downfall is one of the best WWII films ever crafted. Catch it on Netflix.
The Danish moviemaker stunned reporters during a press conference at the event in May (11) when he rambled on about his German heritage and declared he could "understand" Hitler.
Von Trier was subsequently banned from the French movie festival, where the film's lead star Kirsten Dunst landed the Best Actress award - and he was saddened to miss out on sharing in her success.
Dunst tells Interview magazine, "He apologised, because it affected us as a group, and we couldn't celebrate together. I know he was embarrassed."
Von Trier has since vowed never to be interviewed or speak publicly again following the scandal.
The Danish director was banned from the Cannes Film Festival in France in May (11) after telling a press conference he could "understand" the Nazi leader.
The controversy continued last month (Sep11) when he refused to apologise for his comments, and on Wednesday (05Oct11) von Trier was quizzed by Danish police over the incident, prompting him to announce a dramatic withdrawal from the public eye.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, he writes, "Today at 2pm I was questioned by the Police of North Zealand in connection with charges made by the prosecution of Grasse in France from August 2011 regarding a possible violation of prohibition in French law against justification of war crimes.
"The investigation covers comments made during the press conference in Cannes in May 2011. Due to these serious accusations I have realized that I do not possess the skills to express myself unequivocally and I have therefore decided from this day forth to refrain from all public statements and interviews."
He stunned reporters at a press conference for his film Melancholia in May (11) when he launched into a rant about his German heritage and declared he could "understand" the Nazi leader.
Festival officials condemned his remarks, prompting von Trier to backtrack over his comments and personally apologise for causing a stir, even though he was still subsequently banned from the rest of the week's events.
Now, opening up about the incident for the first time, the Danish filmmaker admits his public apology was forced and wasn't true to his feelings.
He tells GQ magazine, "I don't think there is a right or wrong thing to say. I think that anything can be said. That is very much me... To say I'm sorry for what I said is to say I'm sorry for what kind of a person I am, (and that) I'm sorry for my morals, and that would destroy me as a person.
"It's not true. I'm not sorry. I am not sorry for what I said. I'm sorry that it didn't come out more clearly. I'm not sorry that I made a joke. But I'm sorry that I didn't make it clear that it was a joke. But I can't be sorry for what I said - it's against my nature... but that's maybe where I'm really sick in my mind. You can't be sorry about something that's fundamentally you. Maybe I'm a freak in that sense."
Shia LaBeouf admits his movie boss made him feel like a slacker - because he was always working on ambitious international projects.
He says, "When we were doing publicity, he really turned the interesting on.
"We're flying around the world and he's prepping two operas - one in French, which is a one-man show, and another six-man show that he does in Russia.
"He's prepping that while we're trying to formulate what our answers are going to be for the (press) tour... We're watching him do three, four different languages... as we try to figure out how we're gonna answer the Megan Fox question."
Megan Fox was LaBeouf's love interest in the first two Transformers films. She was replaced for the third film after upsetting crew members and producer Steven Spielberg with remarks she made about Adolf Hitler in a magazine interview.
Fox played the lead female in the first two films opposite Shia LaBeouf, but she made way for model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley to take over in this year's (11) third outing.
The actress was reportedly fired after suggesting working with director Michael Bay was like taking orders from Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, while in a recent interview LaBeouf hinted she was not well-liked on the set.
But now Gibson, who plays Sergeant Robert Epps in the movies, has spoken out in favour of the controversial star, insisting he's found it "difficult" to continue without her.
He tells PopEater.com, "Of course I miss Megan. Megan is a sweet girl. I've never had an issue with her. It's always been good. I know people are talking a lot of mess about her, but I just hope she has a strong stomach.
"Having a franchise that she's been a part of from the beginning, and not being able to have her on board is probably the most difficult. Sometimes things don't work out, but I wish her well. In business, her career, her personal life. She's a sweet girl."
The actress, who was reportedly fired from the film franchise after suggesting working with director Michael Bay was like taking orders from Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, has been replaced by Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely in new film Dark of The Moon.
Former love interest Shia LaBeouf has hinted that Fox was not well-liked on the set in a recent interview and now writers have had one more dig at the sex symbol in the new film.
While they herald her beauty in a scene where LaBeouf's character and his parents talk about his ex, they also poke fun at her bad attitude in another scene, in which scrap drones Wheelie and Brains remember Fox's character Mikaela Banes.
Shuddering at the thought of her, Brains states, "I didn't like her. She was mean".
The same day news broke that Steven Spielberg fired Megan Fox from the Transformers franchise because of her comparison of Michael Bay to Adolf Hitler, she has signed on star in The Dictator alongside Sacha Baron Cohen. Jewish!
The Hollywood Reporter is, uh, reporting that Fox's role will be along the lines of a cameo. It also says that John C. Reilly will appear in the same capacity, joining already announced co-stars Ben Kinglsey and Anna Faris in the typically secretive collaboration between Cohen and director Larry Charles (Seinfeld, Borat).
Fox has been far from unemployed since her Spielberg-imposed sabbatical, though: She has already shot the dramedy Friends With Kids, directed by Jon Hamm's longtime real-life lady friend Jennifer Westfeldt, and she recently signed up for Judd Apatow's next project, This Is Forty. Plus, she recently renewed her wedding vows with Brian Austin Green. Take that, Spielberg!
Looks like Michael Bay was wrongfully blamed for something yet again. It turns out that Steven Spielberg, not Bay, essentially gave Megan Fox her walking papers from the Transformers franchise.
After Fox's unsurprisingly controversial remarks in 2009 that compared Bay's on-set antics to those of one Adolf Hitler, she was rather swiftly laid off. It was always assumed, for good reason, that said comments were responsible for her being replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley on Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but Bay finally discusses the matter at length in the latest issue of GQ magazine.
Bay makes it clear that Spielberg, who has served as a producer on all of the Transformers movies (and directed Schindler's List, for Christ's sake!), didn't have to think too long about what to do with Fox after her Hitler-comparison-gate: "She was in a different world [on the set], on her BlackBerry. You gotta stay focused. And you know, the Hitler thing. Steven [Spielberg] said, 'Fire her right now.'"
All is apparently civil between the two now; she even called him a dork via text a few months ago.
Fox has always insisted she quit the blockbuster movie series after the Transformers sequel but now Bay has a different story, claiming he had to let her go after she likened him to Hitler in a Wonderland magazine interview.
In a recent chat with News.com.au, Bay revealed it was Transformers executive producer Spielberg’s decision to axe his leading lady.
He recalls, "Steven said, 'Fire her right now.'"
Bay insists he wasn't hurt by Fox's remarks, but Jewish movie mogul Spielberg, the founder of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, was reportedly appalled.
Fox and Spielberg have yet to speak about the ongoing drama.
The actress was replaced by Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley for the third Transformers film, which will be released later this summer (11).