Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, starring Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Corinna Harfouch, Ulrich Matthes and Juliane Köhler.

As we mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two, director Oliver Hirschbiegel delivers a brave and challenging film about the fall of the Third Reich. Recounting the last 12 days of Hitler's life in an underground bunker in Berlin, Hirschbiegel controversially focuses his attention on the more humane side of a monster.   

The film is based on the memoirs of Hitler's personal secretary Traudl Junge (Lara), who took part in the acclaimed documentary 'Blind Spot' before her death in 2002. Believing she is serving her country with honour, a paternal relationship develops between Junge and Hitler (Ganz), and she gives an insight into a man who ordered such merciless acts, yet is moved at the death of his dog.

Hitler's advisors and friends the Goebbels (Harfouch and Matthews) sacrifice their freedom and family for their beliefs in their leader. The suffering in the real world offsets the party atmosphere in the bunker - children fight Russian soldiers on the street while Braun (Köhler) and Hitler live a decadent life, safe in the belly of the homeland.

Having studied unseen private footage for months, Ganz gives a stunning portrayal of Hitler - moving and chilling in equal measure. With the acting gripping throughout, the film achieves its sense of claustrophobia using natural light and unsteady camerawork to convey life in the bunker.

Powerful and hard-hitting, 'Downfall' will keep its audience intrigued throughout.

Seán Kavanagh