Premiered in 2005, starring the overwhelming composition by Bruno Ganz disguised as Hitler, “La Chute”, broadcast tonight by Arte, also aroused a lively controversy, in Germany and then in France.
Berlin, April 1945. The Third Reich is dying. The fight rages in the streets of the capital. Hitler, accompanied by his generals and his closest followers, took refuge in his bunker, located in the gardens of the Chancellery. Beside him, Traudl Junge, the Führer’s private secretary, refuses to leave him. While outside the situation deteriorates, Hitler lives the last hours of him and the fall of the regime.
Premiered in 2005 with us, La Chute was adapted from two works, LHitler’s last days, a bestseller by Nazi-era historian Joachim Fest, published in 2002; Y “Until the Last Hour: Hitler’s Last Secretary”or the memoirs of Traudl Junge.
A great war film by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the film featured a very strong cast, in the midst of which was a luminous Alexandra Maria Lara disguised as the Fürher’s secretary. But of course it is Bruno Ganz, disguised as Hitler, who took everything in his path. A masterful and overwhelming composition, both the mimicry with the sinister original model is absolutely amazing in the film. Creepy even.
A physical resemblance that, by the late actor’s admission (who died in 2019), had amazed him since his auditions for the role. The fall “takes a very hard look at the fall of the regime. A merciless look. And although certain situations can give the feeling of humanizing the characters, and if Hitler is not described from beginning to end as an executioner, the ideology that the characters convey protagonists are shown as totally absurd and insane […]” commented Bruno Ganz, at the time of the premiere of the film.
Should we humanize Hitler?
Seen in its theatrical release by 5 million Germans, The fall he kept rekindling badly extinguished fires on the other side of the Rhine. Wasn’t it dangerous to humanize Hitler? “Do we have the right to portray a man responsible for the death of 40 million people?” the Berlin newspaper wondered Tagesspiegel.
For Oliver Hirschbiegel, the danger lay much more in keeping him in the unreal image of a monster than in restoring him to his human features: “It is an insult to the victims to affirm that he was not a human being (…) He knew perfectly well what he was doing at every moment of his life and, with him, all those who followed him (…) If you find him understanding, it is because you are not listening”.
“If we had made a movie about Hitler and his dog, obviously dog lovers would have found it endearing. It depends where you put the telescope.”
A survey published in Stern magazine seemed to agree with him: 69% of Germans approved of the film showing Hitler in such a human light, compared to 26% who disapproved. Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl (1930-2017) himself estimated that “This movie was meant to be made. And I hope it gets seen by as many people as possible.”
For his part, filmmaker Wim Wenders, who had just revealed Bruno Ganz in The American Friend, had accused the film of “minimize Nazi crime” refuse to take sides. “When you say something, it is not enough to know what you are talking about, you also have to know how and where you are talking”wrote in the weekly Die Zeit.
A controversy that bounces in France
The controversy inevitably spilled over into France. “When we see Hitler in this movie, we want to get close to him, we want to understand him (but) we shouldn’t have fun understanding these people. The crimes committed by this man are beyond any reason we can give.” he had blown Shoah director Claude Lanzmann on the set of France 2. “There is nothing forbidden in art, but there are simply things that are impossible in art. Nobody, for example, can reproduce a gas chamber.”
President of the Association of sons and daughters of deportees from France, Serge Klarsfeld was not at all of the same opinion as Claude Lanzmann, not believing “that there are reasons to create a controversy around this film”.
“It is a commonplace to say that the private man does not resemble the public man. Such a great democrat could have been rude to his secretary and such a courteous dictator to his. Beaten. adding : “If we had made a movie about Hitler and his dog, obviously the dog friends would have taken a liking to him. It depends on where we put the telescope.”
“In his attempt to describe this behind closed doors, (the filmmaker) answers the question ‘how’: how did Hitler’s last twelve days unfold, without asking ‘why? estimated for his part the historian Jean-Pierre Azéma, a specialist in the Second World War, in the columns of Paris.
17 years after the passage of the controversial caravan, Arte broadcasts Oliver Hirschbiegel’s solid film. A viewing that we advise you, to which we can also add a reading advice if you are interested in the subject.
the amazing book The end, by historian Ian Kershaw, published by Editions du Seuil in 2012. Author of a monumental authorized biography on Hitler, he exposed in his book the collapse of a regime in the last months of the war, asking these two questions: why the war lasts so long? How to explain the incredible resistance of the Nazi regime in the rubble?