We watched Downfall
, about the last days of the Reich. It's a profoundly strange picture, that recreates with deep empathy and humanity the last days of Adolf Hitler and the people who most believed in him. I say empathy because, of course, it has no sympathy for them. They have perpetrated the most heinous crimes upon the world and destroyed their own country. And yet here are real flesh and blood people who have put their faith in the wrong place -- in a raving, homicidal lunatic, a misplaced devotion to duty and honor, and a sick ideology of superiority. And in that faith there is no evil they are not willing to do.
It's the other side of Schindler's List
. You watch Schindler's List
to learn that yes, these horrors really happened. And you watch Downfall
to see that the people that created these horrors devoutly believed that they were fighting the good fight against all kind of evils -- communism, and Western decadence, and the poisonous Jewish race. They held onto their belief that they were superior even after all the evidence was obviously against it; after all, they were getting their asses kicked. They simply retreated into faith.
It is a good reminder not to trust leaders past the point of your own common sense and your own humanity. When an entire nation puts its faith blindly in a leader, that leader can lead them into Hell.
I hope you rent it, as a powerful movie, or as a deep investigation of sympathy versus empathy. Not one
of the characters in this movie is "likable" -- the only blameless creature in it is Hitler's dog. Every single human being in the movie has it coming big time. And yet you want to see what happens to them, what it's like to be them.
And you pray: God save us all from idealism run out of control.