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The film neither glorifies Hitler and his inner circle, nor does it provide commentary on the crimes perpetrated by the Nazi regime. Instead, the film is based on historical events, eyewitness accounts and the personal testimony of the people who knew [[Hitler]].
The film's impending release in 2004 provoked a debate in German film magazines and newspapers. Germany's tabloid newspaper ''Bild'' asked,
Concern about the film's depiction of Hitler led [[The New Yorker|New Yorker]] film critic David Denby to observe[http://www.newyorker.com/critics/cinema/?050214crci_cinema] that
:''As a piece of acting, Ganz’s work is not just astounding, it’s actually rather moving. But I have doubts about the way his virtuosity has been put to use. By emphasizing the painfulness of Hitler’s defeat Ganz has ... made the dictator into a plausible human being. Considered as biography, the achievement (if that’s the right word) ... is to insist that the monster was not invariably monstrous—that he was kind to his cook and his young female secretaries, loved his German shepherd, Blondi, and was surrounded by loyal subordinates. We get the point: Hitler was not a supernatural being; he was common clay raised to power by the desire of his followers. But is this observation a sufficient response to what Hitler actually did?''
With respect to German uneasiness about
:'' A few journalists in [Germany] wondered aloud whether the
After previewing the film, Hitler biographer [[Ian Kershaw]], wrote in [[The Guardian]][http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,4120,1306616,00.html] that
: ''Knowing what I did of the bunker story, I found it hard to imagine that anyone (other than the usual neo-Nazi fringe) could possibly find Hitler a sympathetic figure during his bizarre last days. And to presume that it might be somehow dangerous to see him as a human being — well, what does that thought imply about the self-confidence of a stable, liberal democracy? Hitler was, after all, a human being, even if an especially obnoxious, detestable specimen. We well know that he could be kind and considerate to his secretaries, and with the next breath show cold ruthlessness, dispassionate brutality, in determining the deaths of millions.''
Kershaw went on to comment that
Addressing other critics like Denby, [[Chicago Sun-Times]] film critic [[Roger Ebert]] wrote[http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050310/REVIEWS/50222002/1023]:
:''Admiration I did not feel. Sympathy I felt in the sense that I would feel it for a rabid dog, while accepting that it must be destroyed. I do not feel the film provides
:''As we regard this broken and pathetic Hitler, we realize that he did not alone create the Third Reich, but was the focus for a spontaneous uprising by many of the German people, fueled by racism, xenophobia, grandiosity and fear. He was skilled in the ways he exploited that feeling, and surrounded himself by gifted strategists and propagandists, but he was not a great man, simply one armed by fate to unleash unimaginable evil. It is useful to reflect that racism, xenophobia, grandiosity and fear are still with us, and the defeat of one of their manifestations does not inoculate us against others.''
[[Slika:Traudle.jpg|thumb|220px|Scene from the film in which Traudl Junge escapes the bunker after the death of Hitler]]
Director Oliver Hirschbiegel confirmed that the film's makers sought to give Hitler a three-dimensional personality.
The movie incorporates, as introduction and conclusion, the struggle for self-forgiveness of [[Traudl Junge]], as voiced in the documentary ''[[Im toten Winkel]]''.
The film is set mostly in and around the [[Führerbunker]]. Director [[Oliver Hirschbiegel]] made an effort to accurately reconstruct the look and atmosphere of the bunker through eyewitness accounts, survivors' [[memoirs]] and other historical sources. According to his commentary on the [[DVD]], ''[[Der Untergang]]'' was filmed in a district of [[Saint Petersburg, Russia]] which, with its many buildings designed by [[German architecture|German architects]], was said to resemble many parts of 1940s [[Berlin]] to an astonishing degree.
*Junge, Traudl, and Melissa Müller: ''Until the Final Hour : Hitler's Last Secretary'' Published by Arcade Publishing; 1st U.S. edition (April 2, 2004) ISBN 1-55970-728-3
*O'Donnell, James P., ''The Bunker'' (ISBN 0-306-80958-3)
* Willi Bischof (Hg.): ''Filmri: ss. Studien über den Film