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Controversial Hitler Film

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germans struggled to digest a powerful new film about Adolf Hitler that opened in cinemas on Thursday amid a raging debate about whether the dictator can be portrayed as anything less than the world's greatest evil.


"The Downfall" drew mixed reviews from German film critics and ordinary cinema-goers, with many applauding its gory depiction of the final 12 days of the Nazi regime but others objecting to some scenes showing Hitler having a human side.


"It's a masterpiece," wrote Bild, Germany's top-selling daily. "It's the film of the year, a German film about the eternal ghost of German history. Hitler: human, monster, mass-murderer. Confused, raging, insane."


Told from the point of view of Traudl Junge, one of Hitler's secretaries in his Berlin bunker, "Der Untergang" as it is called in German is also based on eyewitness accounts from a book of the same name by leading German historian Joachim Fest.


"I think it's good that a German filmmaker is confronting Hitler, but I don't like the way Adolf comes off like such a human being," said Hans Joachim Drewell, 70, a Berlin pensioner. "It was too much to take. They should have showed more of his evil side, his fanaticism, and not so much of this human side." Played superbly by Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, Hitler's hypnotizing outbursts of rage at his generals' failure to stop the Soviet advance are mixed with scenes in which he is kind to his female staff, his fiancee Eva Braun and even his dog.


"We've seen Hitler before as a madman but twisting spaghetti around his fork or crying?" wrote Berliner Morgenpost film critic Hanns-Georg Rodek. "We've seen him as a clown before, but as a newlywed planting a kiss on the mouth of Eva Hitler?"


At one of the first screenings in Germany at Potsdamer Platz, just a few hundred meters from the bunker where Hitler committed suicide, many Germans wept at scenes showing Joseph Goebbels' wife icily poisoning their six children.


"Some parts were really creepy," said Marie-Louise Hellblau, 14, who saw the film with her classmates. "Hitler was totally brutal and evil. He only wanted everyone to die with him."


The film, one of the first German productions to wade into the darkest chapter of their own history, has received mass media coverage, with Hitler's visage making it onto the cover of both major weekly newsmagazines, Der Spiegel and Stern.


It was showing on 400 screens in Germany, one of the biggest releases of the year. Costing 13.5 million euros, "The Downfall" is one of the most expensive productions in German history.


"So close to Hitler -- is that okay?" asked the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper. "Is it right to make a film in such detail about the dictator responsible for millions of crimes?"


An opinion poll by the Forsa institute said that 69 percent of Germans answered that question with 'yes'.


"It's a great film, but sad and horrible at the same time," said Justina Kerwitz, 57, a Berlin hairdresser. "They've done a brilliant job capturing how the mood in Berlin must have been."


She dismissed criticism that it showed Hitler's human side.


"He wasn't born as a beast," Kerwitz added.


But Phillip Boyes, a 19-year-old student from London and a Polish national, said the film was upsetting, though done well.


"It shows Germans as the sufferers," he said. "It's hard to accept, portraying Nazis as human beings. It's hard to see."


A Chinese student studying in Berlin said he thought there was nothing wrong with Germans making a drama about Hitler.


"It showed another perspective, that Nazis could be ordinary people too," said the student, aged 36.


"Sixty years on, I think it's important that Germans can show another side of Hitler even if there's a danger some will say 'Hitler wasn't so bad after all'."



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my buddy has just told me that his mom went to see it and she left the movie theater really really angry for Hitler's treatment as a person... i asked him not to tell me anything about the movie, i dont wanna be biased before watching it...

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why would peole be pissed off because of hitlar being showen as a person??


he was, after all, a human being (not a good example but he is human none-the-less"


Even nazis have feelings...maybe not guilt...or remorse...but cirtainatly some feelings

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I'd definately like to see that. It certainly won't come to Owen Sound, but I'll get it on DVD.


Edit: Has anyone seen 'Max'? That is a stunning movie, I heartily recommend it. It stars John Cusack as a veteran of the great war, who was an artist, but after having his armamputated is now an art dealer. It shows the beginning of Private Adolf Hitler's political career, and his attempt at being an artist. When he fails to become a successful artist, he turns to politics.

Edited by miscellaneous
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