From the Telegraph:
A decades-long taboo was broken in Germany yesterday with the launch of a feature film in which Adolf Hitler appears for the first time in a central role, not as a ranting demagogue but as a soft-spoken dreamer.
The Downfall is a huge shift from the previous tendency in German cinema to show Hitler only as a background figure or a character who does not appear on camera at all.
It tells the story of the last 12 days of Hitler's life in his 25ft-deep bunker in Berlin - including his suicide alongside his new wife Eva Braun on April 30, 1945 - while advancing Soviet troops pulverise the city with shellfire.
The production by Bernd Eichinger, a respected director, is likely to cause controversy when it opens in German cinemas next month. It depicts the Fuhrer as an avuncular character with a penchant for chocolate cake, who slides into madness when his lifelong dream of a 1,000-year reich slips from his grasp.
The Downfall offers a sympathetic portrayal of the Führer. Until he starts having hysterical fits, Ganz's Hitler talks in a soft, melodic Austrian accent, far different from the barking tone he adopted for his mass rallies. The director said the voice was copied from the single recording which exists of Hitler talking in normal tones.
Mr Eichinger, who also wrote the screenplay, reconstructs the last days of the Third Reich as seen from the claustrophobic and dimly-lit bunker with the help of diary extracts and eye-witness accounts by Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge, who died in 2002, as well as his telephonist, and an officer, Major Freytag, who are the last two living survivors.
Shot in Berlin, Munich and St Petersburg at a cost of £9 million, making it one of the most expensive German films of all time, The Downfall has been welcomed by critics for demythologising Hitler - even before they have had the chance to see it.
Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the critic Frank Schirrmacher praised The Downfall for bringing Germany's evaluation of its history into "a new phase".
Until now Germans had been afraid to portray on screen "the man who still dominates the German imagination more than any other figure in history", he wrote.
But the tabloid Bild yesterday posed the question that an increasing number of critics will no doubt ask: "Should a monster be portrayed as a human being?"Eichinger, the 55-year-old son of a Wehrmacht soldier who fought on the eastern front, said he believed the film would offer an "emotional release" for many Germans still traumatised by the Second World War, even though only one in five living Germans experienced it.
Its release comes at a time when Germans are involved in an intense debate about their suffering in the war.
There have been several popular books and historical analyses of German suffering during Allied bombing of Dresden and other cities, most famously Gunter Grass's Crabwalk of 2002. The subject went virtually undiscussed for half a century after the war ended.
Critics say the debate is in danger of playing into the hands of revisionists - those who play down the crime of the Holocaust.Germany breaks the Hitler taboo