Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.
The Jaw-Dropper: Downfall
We hate to begin Screen Gems with a reference to an internet meme, but here, it feels appropriate. Many of our dear readers will, no doubt, know the notorious “Hitler Rant” videos that have circulated on the web for years. Amusing or not, they have a decidedly less-than-hilarious origin.
Downfall divided critics upon release in 2004. The film, based in part on the memoir of Traudl Junge, Adolph Hitler‘s secretary, portrays the events of the final days of the Battle of Berlin. Hitler (Bruno Ganz) and his deputies now function in a bunker amid shelling by the Red Army. Germany sits in ruin, its army decimated, but the Führer refuses to surrender. Hitler’s aides, including Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara), begin to realize his total madness. Hitler doesn’t care if every German man, woman, and child dies. He refuses to surrender, regardless of the cost.
Of course, any student of history will know how this story ends. To paraphrase Eddie Izzard: Hilter ended up dead in a ditch covered in petrol on his honeymoon. Downfall doesn’t weave a conventional plot so much as provide a portrait of the insane final days of Nazi Germany. Much of the film’s power comes from a brilliant performance by Ganz. Modern pop culture likes to paint Hitler in caricature: a wild supervillain on par with any character in DC or Marvel’s canon. Ganz avoids that goofiness by doing something almost unthinkable: he humanizes the man. Hitler may well be the worst nightmare of the human experience, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t capable of warmth or affection at times. Ganz leans into these softer moments, which only makes his performance more frightening.
Downfall snagged an Oscar Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, though that accolade didn’t assuage its detractors. Critics of the film blasted it, claiming that by humanizing Hitler, it downplayed his crimes. We disagree. Downfall in no way excuses, the horror of Hitler, Nazism or the Holocaust, nor does it make Hitler sympathetic. It only underlines the real lesson of how racism and xenophobia led to the monstrosity of Hitler and Nazism. Men of pure evil are still men.
What has any of this to do with LGBTQ people, you ask? The Nazis predicated the Holocaust on racial and social hygiene. Along with Jews, scores of queer people perished in the Holocaust, or as a result of the War. And, with another dictator using attacks on LGBTQ people to justify fascist expansionism, we think it is time to consider the parallels. Putin’s war crimes may not have yet matched those of Hitler in scope. Let us pray the people of Russia recognize his evil before they ever do.
Streams on Amazon, iTunes & VUDU.
Great film! Evil man! Next will be Putin!
No doubt Putin has done his share but for sheer numbers of mangled, destroyed humans since the reign of Hitler I suspect the Chinese famines caused by incompetence in China under Mao and the American wars in the Muslim countries produced deaths in the millions. America killed millions in Iraq, hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans and supply the intelligence, logistics and weapons for the on going butchery in Yemen. I don’t ad Vietnam to this litany of murder because it predates the actual nomenclature of neoconservatism but it produced the same results. The total capture of the American government by neo conservatives back in the days of Booger Bush and Deathstar Dick Cheney and enthusiastically carried forward under EVERY administration since should at least be considered in one’s reckoning of who is the baddest apple.
oddtop = Russian troll trying to distract from the WAR CRIMES Putin is committing RIGHT NOW with “what about Clinton” arguments.
Right now, again, RIGHT NOW, Putin is killing INNOCENT people and blasting Ukrainian cities, not military targets, into oblivion. RIGHT NOW, Putin is doing to Ukraine what he did to Syria. Maripaul is the new Aleppo, which Russia totally destroyed, and the Ukraine is the new Syria which Russia has totally destroyed basically for target practice.
False equivalencies, and schoolyard arguments (I know I am, but what about you), do not distract from the WAR CRIMES, Putin is committing RIGHT NOW in Ukraine.
The Russian trolls are very active online. The world needs more elves to rebut the Russian troll’s misinformation and twisted and perserve attempts to misdirect from the WAR CRIMES Russia is committing RIGHT NOW.
Russia will be a pariah nation long after Putin is gone. For shame!
America killed millions in Iraq? Are you serious?? You really need a reality check buddy!
Accidental casualties is NOT the same as the wholesale, purposeful slaughter of innocent civilians. The United States goes through extraordinary measures to ONLY target military and enemy sources. Do civilians sometime get caught up in the crossfire? YES they do, and even though small in number, it’s always publicly acknowledged and regretted by American leadership. There are public hearings and public investigations and if negligence or criminality can be established, then there are real consequences, including incarceration of the guilty party and/or compensation to the victims.
War criminals like Hitler and Putin however care NOT ONE IOTA for the suffering of innocent civilians! They target military and civilian infrastructure alike because their aim is not just to destroy, but also to oppress and humiliate any survivors. If there are civilian casualties there will be NO regrets, NO hearings, NO investigations, NO consequences and most certainly NO compensation (at least not voluntary).
You really need to stop drinking the Putin propaganda cool-aide GET A CLUE! Better yet, GET AN EDUCATION!
“ The United States goes through extraordinary measures to ONLY target military and enemy sources.”
This is amply not true. Multiple people have gone to prison for being whistleblowers for how the U.S. military has killed civilians. Perhaps you have hear of Chelsea Manning? If you are going to yell about people not being educated you should do some basic level of paying attention.
The Accidental Polemicist
“…I suspect the Chinese famines caused by incompetence in China under Mao…”
An estimated 65 million Chinese died as a result of Mao’s repeated, merciless attempts to create a new “socialist” China. Anyone who got in his way was done away with — by execution, imprisonment or forced famine.
To equate in any way the vicious evils perpetuated on the Chinese by their own leader and government to what America and specifically President Bush and Vice President Cheney have done shows either how enormously ignorant to history you are or to be completely morally bankrupt. Despicable.
This was an excellent movie, with great performances by everyone, including Ganz.
Criticism of the film based on it “humanizing” Hitler or downplaying his crimes is off-base. The point is to show how Hitler was an ordinary person, this makes his crimes more chilling, not less. IMO depictions of him as a cardboard villain on the level of Snidely Whiplash make him and his crimes less real. And the movie is not about the Holocaust, it’s about Hitler and his inner circle during the final days of the downfall of the Reich—as it says in the very title!
To me the most chilling scenes were with Goebbels, and his wife. When told that the untrained and poorly armed defense units of civilians they were hoping would hold back the Red Army were useless, and being slaughtered, he says he doesn’t care, they wanted total war and now they got it. Then he and his wife kill their own children, for they “cannot bear to have them grow up in a world without National Socialism”. Shocking.
Anyone accusing the movie of minimizing or excusing Nazi crimes has not seen the movie, or failed to pay attention.
yes, by not humanizing him you make him a mythic figure and that can be attractive to weak minded people. Or ridiculous like in that Quentin Tarentino film where he is comical. HE was NOT comical he was a sick human man like Trump. Real people like Hitler, stalin and mao are the worst villians in history and we put ourselves in peril ignoring the living people hoping to follow their lead like Putin
Humanizing Hitler? Check out the sitcom on YouTube “Heil Honey, I’m Home.” Who in their right mind ever thought this was a good idea?
I’m a little concerned about this David Reddish contributor here. He seems to be doing his part for the Russian war effort by posting things designed to soften the atrocities that Russia is right now committing in Ukraine. As examples, last week it was something humanizing the Russians, today he’s telling us Putin isn’t as bad as Hitler was, like there’s a scale….. it seems to be a theme.
I guess my question is: Why does David Reddish seemed to be trying to mitigate the war crimes Putin and the Russians are committing.? It seems almost like an agenda.
Why can’t we have an article about the progress of democracy in the Ukraine since it has been out from under the thumb of Russia; or something about dissidents in Russia.
What’s going on Mr. Reddish?
@Fahd, my exact thoughts. Most perplexing. Having just listened to President Biden’s very powerful address in Warsaw, speaking about Putin that cannot stay in power. Putin is a war criminal, a butcher and on par wirh the evil Hitler. To think Dumph called Putin a genius at the start of the Ukraine war?
We pray and stand with Ukraine and it’s people.
Joe Biden did NOT give a powerful address. He was reading from a teleprompter and was slurring his speech, mispronouncing words, and uttering malaprops. The guy has dementia.
Red Wave coming in November.
New York Times: Hunter Biden’s laptop is authentic, and NOT Russian misinformation. Emails on the laptop prove that Dementia Joe received 10% of whatever money Hunter got from foreign nations and corporations for access to The Dementia Patient currently in the Oval Office.
Remember: Biden’s Administration said over and over that sanctions would deter Russia; now Dementia Joe says they never said that, although Blinken, Cackling Kamala and Psaki all said that.
Republicans will be taking control of the House and Senate. Hunter and Joe Biden will be investigated, and Joe Biden will be impeached by the House.
The right-wing drunk troll who no doubt won’t make it to November. Stop drinking now; there might be time to enjoy a little sobriety.
The Accidental Polemicist
First of all, my condolences on your screen name.
Second, the White House had to clean up Biden’s embarrassing gaffe to US soldiers in Poland to avoid an international incident.
This is what happens when you have a senile, incompetent dementia patient who ran for the presidency from his basement.
I’m a teetotaler. Stop projecting.
The Accidental Polemicist:
I used to think that The Dementia Patient in the Oval Office was lying us into war, but I may be incorrect. Biden is so inept that he is stumbling us into a World War III with a nuclear Super Power.
@M*ntalMayer and TAP, the only red wave that might even come before November is Dumph buddy Putin raining nuclear bombs down on cities in the US.
I will not say a word on the inane comments in both your posts.
This is Reddish’s third article in today’s Queerty about “queer” films that have virtually nothing whatsoever to do with gay people. Hitler put many gay people in concentration camps, but there’s no mention of it whatsoever in “Downfall.” Is Reddish guy actually straight? The films he’s mentioning in these articles are such a stretch to be considered “queer” that it’s kind of ridiculous.
Whichever screen name you’re going by today: I noticed that you didn’t address any of my points because they are irrefutable, and referring to me as “M*ntalMayer” is an ad hominem attack, which only proves you have no evidence to back up your argument so you are resorting to what a scoundrel does: Attack the messenger.
The Republicans will retake control of the House and Senate (30 Democrats in Congress are retiring which is a sign that even they know what’s coming in November), Hunter Biden and The Dementia Patient in the White House will be under investigation by the House and Senate, lots of things will be dug up which proves corruption on their parts, and Biden will be impeached by the House.
Marcy pretends to be all butt-hurt about being called “M*ntalMayer,” but only a week ago she told someone here (twice) to commit suicide with fentanyl.
What kind of person clicks on a story about a Hitler movie, of all things, as an excuse to comment about Biden’s supposed “dementia” and Hunter’s laptop? Oh, maybe a mentally ill person pretending to be trans. Or maybe a paid troll.
Whichever screen name you’re using, it’s getting very tedious, sweetie.
Once again, the leftist can’t refute anything I’m saying about The Dementia Patient currently in the Oval Office.
Pathetic & very sad.
Ha, I hope Cam sees that comment – he’s been accusing me for two years of being one of the hydra-headed manifestations of THE one-and-only “right-wing troll”! (Why I dunno, since I never write anything right-wing.) And now I’m Cam? Cool!
The Accidental Polemicist
The Biden Crime Family is going down!
@TAP, let me help you corect your typo.
“The TRUMP Crime Family is gping down”.
No need to thank me popsicle.
Seems the Slate staff has dealt with Mr. Reddish.
Amazing film. I was reluctant to watch it but was blown away.
Just watched an interview with Greg Wallace and the reasons for him leaving Fox. My God, if this doesn’t alarm any right-wing nut nothing will.
Whichever screen name you’re using today, you can’t even get his name right: It’s Chris Wallace NOT Greg Wallace. I’m not surprised. This is further proof that left-wingers can’t keep simple facts – like a person’s name – in their pea-sized brains.
Perhaps that’s why all the leftists in the South Bronx, Harlem, and South-Central L.A. are so dumb: Their brains are the size of peas.
Having to constantly answer your fake comments @M*ntalMayer is becoming rather boring. But I will not give up and will continue. To argue with a fool serves no purpose. So Chris by mistake got called Greg. Instead of responding to the contents of his interview, you could only resort to….
Ah, forget it. Must be the meds!
Putin will be the next Hitler if not stopped.
Trump wants to be him too, so another reason why if you support Trump and gay, you’re just an idiot.
Trump love Putin. Trump loves dictators. Point made.
Whichever screen name you’re using today: The point made is that your statement is pure hyperbole.
As a former gay man who transitioned to being a transwoman, I’m very comfortable voting Republican in November. Unlike you, I’m not a single-issue voter. I look at the big picture. Something your pea-sized brain can’t grasp.
The Accidental Polemicist
“Trump love [sic] Putin.”
If Trump loves Putin so much, when Trump was president why did he give Putin an ultimatum
against a land grab on his watch.
“If you move against Ukraine while I’m president,” Trump is said to have told the Russian leader, “I will hit Moscow.”
Putin reportedly scoffed, “No way,” leading Trump to say, “All those beautiful golden turrets will be blown up.”
I’m sorry, what country did Trump invade?
Follows what Hitler’s end-days and hours were like. This is the path you have chosen this will be your demise. Evil, does not belong in this world or anyones else’s.