Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Downfall Of Berlin - Anonyma

The Downfall Of Berlin - AnonymaThis is a bit difficult movie to review. Honestly, I was expecting a movie about the street by street or building by building fight between advancing Russian army and defending Germans, along with occasional views of civilian horrors. Instead, the movie centers on a detailed dairy written by a German journalist woman who witnessed and suffered Russian occupation of Berlin during last days of WWII. Overall, the movie is a major achievement. In my opinion, it accomplishes three main points: (a) civilians suffer and pay a major cost in all wars, particularly elderly, women and children; (ii) Russian soldiers acted not differently from any other invading army when they find defenseless civilians, and most interestingly, (iii) relationships between civilians of defeated Germany and invading Russian troops may not have been just about hate, rape and killings. I highly recommend this movie if these topics interest you and if you wish to see them well treated. The DVD transfer is pretty good, with some nice extras (Director's interview and others), Widescreen presentation, English subtitles forced on Russian and German spoken audio.

Too many foriegn war movies are not coming out here in region one on blu ray.

This is playable though on our blu ray players , in fact of all the recent blu ray foriegn language war themed blu ray releases only max manus is not compatible with our blu rays. This movie is a great movie because it really shows how people can adapt to terrible situations that are beyond imagining. This is a absolutely true story true. By the time of the russian entry into berlin , the battle that killed hundreds of thousands of people; berlin was in ruins, people stood in line for food, and if people were blown up they'd take their place in line covered with blood and guts, just to get something to eat. That's a desperate nightmare even before the russian troops entered the city. Most germans too knew that The axis troops had engaged in a orgy of death and rape and extermination on the eastern front and the russian troops were out for revenge. However as this movie makes clear the average soldier usually wasn't there to exterminate the germans. They did rape every woman in site though including elderly women. There was random kilings though of people , but mostly it was rape and this movie shows that women were forced to survive those terrible days that many women had to adjust to this and try to find a russian soldier that they could have as a protector. After all after the fourth rape or much more it would be in your best interest to get someone to keep the others off you.

Some women killed themselves , others went mad, but most just tried to survive and remained strong. They adjust and shockingly discuss their different rapes and how they were treated by different soldiers raping them in groups. They must adapt and if they must sleep with the russians to get food so be it. The men sit around helpless why the women accept things as they are. This story came from a autobiographical book that shocked and angered people in the late 1950's. Noone wanted to accept that women would just deal with the horror of this and do the best they could to survive. The authors name is still not given even after her death. But history is filled with women shacking up with former raping conquerers. It's about survival after all and war drags things down to primitive level. Noone who wasn't there in these situations can judge the women. This movie isn't a great movie like 'downfall' which you can get on blu ray too, but it's a good and important movie about the human condition. It has bloody fighting in the first part as the russains fight their way in and then begin to take their lustful revenge. Even so they are not depicted as mindless beasts but angry wartorn men who feel that true justice would be extermination. That being said the russian leadership did kill several million germans when they forced them out of what is now western poland.

The deaths from the war continued long after the fighting stopped. In fact with many people deported throughout eastern europe to siberia only to die there over the next ten years the true death toll of the war is far greater than anyone wants to admit. This blu ray looks great with a great print , it's in german with english subtitles and that's fine because reading is good for your brain. The acting is very good and the story true and true stories that stick to the facts are the best kind. History isn't boring it's a slaughter really with times of peace inbetween.

Buy The Downfall Of Berlin - Anonyma Now

Dealing with the taboo subject of the rape of German women by Russian troops entering Berlin in the final days of WWII, no matter how it is dealt with, Anonyma is never going to be easy viewing, so although Max Färberböck's film is very much a palatable mainstream cinematic viewpoint like Downfall and Sophie Scholl, it's a subject that need to be confronted and does indeed need to be brought out into the mainstream.

Anonyma is based on the first-hand account of a woman who experienced rape and abuse at the hands of Soviet troops, progressing their way through the capital towards the Reichstag. One battalion occupy and hold control of the street, ruthlessly wiping out the last elements of resistance, using the few ruined buildings that remain in the destroyed city as little more than makeshift brothels in which the surviving female population are held in fear, and raped at will by as many soldiers that want them. To survive and try and regain some control over what happens to her, one German woman, the proud wife of a loyal Nazi officer, determines to obtain the favour of a high-ranking Soviet official, become his woman alone and thereby avoid a worse fate at the hands of dangerous unknown men.

The film certainly captures the sense of fear for what lies in store for the women, the early part of the film showing them cowering in darkness in ruined basements fearfully waiting for the torches to highlight their faces and drag them outside, but the horror of what they endure is not shown in any graphic detail mercifully, some might feel, while others might find this is avoidant and misrepresents the reality, but it's hard to imagine how the film could otherwise be watchable and reach a necessary wide audience. This is an important factor, since the film is based on the original diaries of the only woman to write about the abuses in any detail, which when first published in 1959, were met with outrage and denial and have subsequently remained out of print, only reappearing after the woman's death, and even then, still anonymously.

What the account and the film confirm however is the same as Rainer Werner Fassbinder covered in his astonishing film The Marriage of Maria Braun, one of the few other films to bravely confront the immediate post-war years and beyond, both of them showing (Maria Braun through the forming a bond with a black American soldier) that it the rebuilding of a destroyed nation was largely built on the strength and determination of the German women, the men living in denial and shame of the defeat that they had suffered. It's there in one particular moving scene of Anonyma where one of the women whispers to the husband of a wife seen dancing with the German troops "We must be practical. Things will get better", only to go and weep behind a closed door for the sacrifice that must be made. The husband doesn't have the same strength to endure it.

Although Nina Hoss is excellent in the central role, one would perhaps have liked to see Färberböck approach Anonyma with the same sense of fearlessness that Fassbinder would have approached such controversial material (the presence of Irm Hermann here, one of Fassbinder group of actors reminding us occasionally of his ability to push buttons and reveal uncomfortable truths about the German character), but even so, the topic of Anonyma needed to be confronted and it makes a strong impression regardless.

Read Best Reviews of The Downfall Of Berlin - Anonyma Here

This is a movie that ranks among the best. It is a story of woman living in the hardest times.

Based on the memoirs of a woman who wished to remain nameless it is different in that appears to be as honest as they come. Her book was first published in German in 1959 and received a critical public responce, feeling that the author brought shame on German women and German way of life and watching the film one can see why. For not only does it describe the atrocities that happend in the final days of World War 2 Berlin but it is also critical of Germans and has a spark of life that goes some way in explaining how people survive. There are even moments of humor in those bleak times and the Soviets are described not only as brutes but survivors of their own kind.

All of this makes for a very powerful film and Max Färberböck has done great justice to the story by lavishly constructing large sets and doing his outmost to bring Berlin in April 1945 back to life. In fact I was pleasantly impressed by the scale of things having watched similar films before I have never before seen so many people and Soviet soldiers in each scene before, before everything has been done on a tight budget but Max Färberböck has managed to bring the film to epic proportions. Any history buff with attention to detail will appriciate the work put into the film and the detail that the Red Army receives.

I still consider Downfall (Der Untergang) superior but I feel the two films compliment each others.


Want The Downfall Of Berlin - Anonyma Discount?

This film is the adaptation of the famous "Woman in Berlin" diary, written from April to June 1945 by a woman from Berlin, who decided to remain anonymous (for quite obvious reasons). The book, which shows the fate of German civilians (mostly women) in Berlin conquered by Red Army, is a very disturbing but brilliantly written thing. To make a movie of "Woman in Berlin" was a very great challenge and after watching the film it is my opinion that the director/writer and the actors rose up to meet it succesfully.

In case you are not familiar with the book "Woman in Berlin" and didn't see yet the film, two precisions are important:

1. Do not expect a war movie. In the film there is ONE short fighting scene and it is all. The film is first about the civilians hiding in basements during the fighting and then trying to survive once the fighting is over and the Red Army occupies Berlin.

2. This is a very dark, violent and disturbing film, which includes scenes of rape. I think that the rating "15" is too liberal for thid film I would really say that it is not for people under 18. This film can also be particularly shocking and disturbing to women, especially considering that it tells a TRUE story!

"Downfall of Berlin" contains many elements which didn't figure in the book, but many of them were at least slightly suggested in "Woman in Berlin". The director also added an element which didn't figure in the book at all, showing that Red Army brought with it not only rape and abuse, but also the omnipresent shadow of totalitarian fear, symbolized by the Soviet political police NKVD, which in a matter of days substituted itself to its Nazi equivalent, the Gestapo. Also, the relation between the Anonymous Woman and the Soviet major is somehow amended here and slightly less unequal than in the real story (in her diary the Anonymous Woman never left even an ounce of doubt, that she was a sexual slave, "owned" by the Soviet officer).

The film also doesn't show the last chapters of the book, after the departure of most of occupying troops (the hunger and forced labor), which are in fact maybe even more shocking than the description of "women hunting" and rapes.

Nina Hoss, who plays the Anonymous Woman, did an amazing job in this film. After reading the book and watching this film I can say that she really, REALLY entered the skin of the author of the diary and played her to the perfection. All other actors did also a great job and I think the director/writer Max Farberbock should be praised for pushing them sometimes to the limits and obtaining the best performance possible.

Bottom line, even if the 5 stars rating maybe just a little too generous (4,5 would be just perfect), I think that considering how hard it was to make a film out of this particular book all the team in charge of "Downfall of Berlin" deserves the highest praise. I watched this film with a mixture of horror and interest and even if there were maybe some weaker moments, I still found it a very good thing.

I do not think that it is possible to actually enjoy "Downfall of Berlin" due to its nightmarish topic, but to anybody interested in World War II this is a definitely recommended viewing, as it shows aspects of this conflict usually never shown or even spoken about.

No comments:

Post a Comment