Tag Archives: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Berlin Serendipity

I have been a Netflix subscriber for a number of years now.

I like to browse through their selection and add things to our queue that I might like to watch some day.  There are well over 100 titles on our list.

I try to keep at least some of the top of the queue dedicated to things both my wife and I will enjoy, but I do not farm the queue constantly, so once in a while something I put on the list ages ago on a whim will bubble to the top.

And so it was a few weeks back.

At the time I was reading Anthony Beevor’s The Fall of Berlin 1945 (US title), something of the companion to his excellent Stalingrad, when the red envelope from Netflix dropped in through the mail slot.

And inside was Downfall.

You have probably seen at least one scene from Downfall.

It turned out to be perfect timing.  I was about 75% of the way through the book when I sat down to watch the movie.  I had just been reading the details of the events surrounding Berlin and got to take a very personal view into what was going on in and about Hitler’s bunker.  That very scene, which has been re-subtitled so often,  and which was described in detail in the book, played out there before me in our living room and I knew exactly what Hitler was raging about and how self-deluded he was.

Okay, it was hard not to smirk a bit and imagine Hitler going on about grammar or Jay Leno.  But I feel vindicated in that I recently read that the director of Downfall, Oliver Hirschbiegel actually finds these parodies of his work funny.  From an interview in New York Magazine:

I think I’ve seen about 145 of them! Of course, I have to put the sound down when I watch. Many times the lines are so funny, I laugh out loud, and I’m laughing about the scene that I staged myself! You couldn’t get a better compliment as a director.

Of course, he has his own wish in that regard.

If only I got royalties for it, then I’d be even happier.

Such is life.

But I digress.

Seeing the movie after having read most of the book really brought a lot of the central characters alive and gave even more depth to an already well written narrative of events.

So if you happen to pick up Anthony Beevor’s book, I would recommend renting Oliver Hirschbiegel’s movie as well.  After having experienced them together, it seems almost wrong to have one without the other.  Just make sure you get a copy of the movie with the right region set.

“I think I’ve seen about 145 of them! Of course, I have to put the sound down when I watch. Many times the lines are so funny, I laugh out loud, and I’m laughing about the scene that I staged myself! You couldn’t get a better compliment as a director.”