Alec Guinness is Adolf Hitler trapped in his bunker while Berlin burns 60 feet above him.
This biographical film claims to be a completely factual account of the Fuehrer’s final week-and-a-half underground: his 56th birthday party, the last hurrahs, the hurried marriage to Eva Braun (played by German actress Doris Kunstmann) and suicide.
Hitler’s health is shattered – the result of his narrow escape from assassination by members of his own general staff; his mind is in chaos – a combination of despair and a thoroughly justifiable paranoia, and in his more lucid moments he knows that the war is lost.
It’s a brave, incredibly detailed performance from Guinness (who looks convincingly like Hitler here), but the film’s Italian writer/director Ennio De Concini conspires against him, cutting to sepia-tinted newsreel footage which is structurally and dramatically pointless.
He also unwisely adds hindsight in Simon Ward’s idealistic young Hauptmann Hoffman, who not only invades the bunker armed with battalions of postwar guilt but also plants political doubts in the mind of Eva Braun.
Through Hoffman’s eyes, we see the two kinds of people upon whose shoulders Hitler rode to power: the fanatics who shared his fantasies and the opportunists who shared his lust for power. A sprinkling of both groups now waits listlessly, committed to sharing his fate and the “Viking funeral” he announces for Germany.
Field Marshal Keitel
General Von Greim
Ennio De Concini