German film on Hitler's demise a box office hit


A German film about Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's final 12 days leapt to the top of the country's box office with nearly half a million tickets sold in its opening weekend.

The Downfall, a film starring Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, shows Hitler's diabolical nature as well as a softer side that is foreign to most Germans and attracted 480,000 viewers in its first four days - one of the strongest starts for any film this year.

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

The film has set off an emotional debate in Germany over whether Hitler can be portrayed as anything less than the world's greatest evil.

Some viewers and critics have applauded its gory depiction of the final days of the Nazi regime, but others have objected to scenes showing Hitler having a human side - whether kissing his newlywed wife Eva at their wedding or eating pasta.

The film, one of the first German productions to wade into the darkest chapter of their own history, has received mass media coverage, with pictures of Hitler making it onto the cover of both major weekly news magazines, Der Spiegeland Stern.

It was released on 400 screens, one of the biggest releases this year. Costing €13.5 million, The Downfallis also one of the most expensive productions in German history.