Hitler: The Last Ten Days

| September 23, 2015

Assembled largely from firsthand accounts, this film tells the story of the final days of Adolf Hitler’s life, hiding away in  his bunker with his girlfriend, his most trusted advisors, and their families while Germany crumpled around them.

I for one am pretty tired of seeing movies about Hitler, whether they’re docudramas like this or documentaries.  That being said, I liked this movie quite a bit.  Made in 1973 with the brilliant Alec Guinness (Star Wars, Bridge on the River Kwai) as the titular fuehrer, the film really strives to present an historically accurate profile of the hated dictator.  When seeing depictions of Hitler as a vile, serpentine, monster over and over again, it’s impossible to see how he ever rose to power.  Here, Guinness gives Hitler the lighthearted, likeable charisma we’ve all heard he possessed and used to rise to power.  Our perception of Hitler always reminds me of Shakespeare’s version of King Richard III, who was not in reality a crippled, deformed villain, but rather someone who didn’t like the direction his country was going in and tried to seize the throne from rulers he perceived as tyrants.

I don’t mean that to sound like I’m defending Hitler.  He was a terrible person who murdered millions of innocent people and even according to this film was willing to let Germany be completely destroyed rather than surrender to Allied forces.  I’m just saying that I appreciate the film spending so much time on his affable, charismatic, likeable side, as it gives context for why he was so well-loved during his rule and why so many people followed him without question.  Since Hitler is our protagonist in this film, and the hero essentially of this story, it would be off-putting to have the traditionally abhorrent version of the man on screen for two hours.

The only scenes that felt awkward and forced to me were the ones where Hitler was on his own with Eva Braun.  While a lot of the group scenes were compiled from research and firsthand accounts, these smaller scenes were clearly left up to the screenwriter’s best guess and had oddly ironic lines.  For example, in an early scene, Braun is talking to Hitler about his strategies while Hitler maps out the plans on paper, and Braun makes a comment about what the world would be like if he’d devoted himself to being an artist.  It’s a very heavy-handed comment on Hitler’s nature and not very believable in the context of the film since I think the real Braun would not have said it, and Hitler would have probably taken offense.

I found the film very informative, not knowing really anything about this period of time except that Braun and Hitler were going to kill themselves in the end.  I didn’t realize how expansive the bunker was or that so many other people were down there with them.  I found the historical narrative the movie presents incredibly interesting, and the new Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films is really beautiful and impressive.

Available now.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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