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Hitler: The Last Ten Days

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    Horace Cordier
    Senior Member

  • Hitler: The Last Ten Days



    Released by: Olive Films
    Released on: September 22nd, 2015.
    Director: Ennio De Concini
    Cast: Alec Guinness, Joss Ackland, Simon Ward, Adolfo Celi
    Year: 1973
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    In 2004, German director Oliver Hirschbiegel gave us a brilliant film about the final days of Adolph Hitler - DOWNFALL. Aside from being a great movie it also put into stark focus the problem with most movies dealing with the Fuhrer - the inherent unbelievability of German characters speaking in English.

    Which leads us to 1973's HITLER: THE LAST TEN DAYS.

    Alec Guinness as Hitler top lines a solid international cast that includes Simon Ward and Adolfo Celi, but this ambitious production is a bit of a doomed enterprise. Guinness ditches the nightmare scenario of the bad fake German accent but his borderline posh tones don't exactly sell the illusion either. Production values are good but there remains an overwhelming air of artifice to this whole proceeding. A problem too is the film's narrow focus - Hitler's last ten days involved mostly hanging around the bunker and ranting and raving at subordinates or having endless meetings formulating plans for never to be launched military assaults. While DOWNFALL made excellent use of that restriction, TEN DAYS generally Saunders it. Guinness also falls into the overacting trap a few too many times.

    The biggest problem with this film though is the narrative disconnect - in an effort to make the film as "authentic" as possible, the director inserted numerous bits of documentary and newsreel footage. This has the combined effect of both undermining the rest of the film and highlighting the artifice of this whole endeavor. Indelible images like the huge Nazi stone eagle on the Reichstag being dynamited by the Allies are a hell of a lot more arresting than the low level soap opera that occupies far too much screen time.

    The final issue with HITLER: THE LAST TEN DAYS is its source material. Historian Hugh Trevor-Roper - who had penned a well-received book on Hitler's final days - was the primary source for the film. Aside from his sometimes contentious opinions, Trevor-Roper later became embroiled in the Hitler "fake diary' scandal when he authenticated those forgeries. All this, in hindsight, casts a pall over this movie.

    As drama, since we all know the ending of this one, a film like this can only work if there are other things to keep our attention than simply an engaging plot. There isn't any real insight offered here on any level. We don't learn what made Hitler or even his loyal lieutenants tick. The history offered is scattershot and cursory. We get no feeling for workings of the the inner circle. The regular use of newsreels and other extraneous footage pulls us out of the film far too often. Ultimately, it took thirty years and DOWNFALL to get this right.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Olive's 1.78:1. framed 1080p AVC encoded transfer isn't particularly impressive. This is clearly an older master, and as such, detail is middling at best, with an overall softness regularly visible. Color saturation and black levels are acceptable but the print itself isn't in great shape. Nicks and cuts are visible and dirt too. The film grain gets a bit clunky. Lastly. all of the stock footage tends to plunge this into visual Hell quite often. Audio is covered by a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track that is the living definition of adequate. Range is narrow but source authentic and everything is clear with no dropouts or obvious distortion. Extras? Zilch - a play film and chapters screen are all you get.

    The Final Word:

    An ambitious failure. Despite the cast and good intentions, HITLER: THE LAST TEN DAYS just never takes flight. It's a frustrating film. Skip it.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!




















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