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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
German film breaks Hitler taboo
Bruno Ganz as Hitler - copyright Constantin Films
Adolf Hitler is played by Swiss actor Bruno Ganz
A new film which breaks one of the last taboos of German cinema by portraying Hitler in a central role, has been shown in Berlin.

The Downfall, written and produced by Bernd Eichinger, follows Hitler's final days leading up to his suicide.

Rather than showing Hitler as a malicious dictator, it portrays him as a soft-spoken man with a human side.

It has caused controversy in a country still trying to come to terms with the events of World War II.


Dr Rolf Giesen, from the Film Museum in Berlin, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme the film had broken taboos in German cinema.

"It is not the first time that they have shown Adolf Hitler on the screen, but it is certainly the first time that they have tried to discover the human touch in that monster," he said.

"It is aimed at the generation who did not know about the terrors of World War II and national socialism.

Juliane Kohler and Bruno Ganz - copyright Constantin Films
Juliane Koehler played Hitler's wife Eva Braun

"This youth will find it a fascinating insight in to the fatalism of evil.

"We have just seen Mel Gibson's Passion of The Christ, now we have the Passion of Adolf Hitler."

Art historian Isabel Marschall said: "I had very strong emotional reactions to the film. For me it was a little like a nightmare I couldn't get out of.

"I always try to be careful not to feel passion with the wrong person and I was very much aware of my emotions through the film."

Ms Marschall added she believed there was a danger in portraying the human side of Hitler on screen.

"I am pretty sure that there might be some people who are going to use this film in a way that will not necessarily be very positive for Germany," she said.

"But it is a very good film in many ways and it is just the time for this kind of film to come out."

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