“Downfall” (2004) is Disturbingly Good

What makes “Downfall” a remarkable achievement is that it strips away this sense of comfort by depicting Adolf Hitler as no different from each of us, exhibiting physical ailments, with the capacity to think rationally (albeit in a twisted way) and showing bursts of emotions. Watching this film is at times a disturbing experience because the moral distance that we often place between us and Hitler disappears.

“Downfall” makes possible the obvious yet deeply troubling realization that Hitler was just another human being because it personifies Hitler in ways that has not been achieved in the past. The entire film is filled with scenes in which Hitler comes off not only relatable but, I hate to concede, also sympathetic.

 

I Hate Indecent People

These people, and others like them, infest this world, from the academia and business to politics and law, and higher their IQ and more elitist their education, the more unbearable they become. They think and act as if their intelligence and their ivy-league education somehow entitles them to treat others, and society in general, with disrespect.

They do not.

Their unjustifiable behaviour only highlights how smarts and stature are worthless without the most basic human decency to accompany it. Whatever ideas, thoughts and opinions these people may have, however intellectually-sound, interesting or thought-provoking they may be, I am not the least bit interested in listening, considering or giving the slightest attention. To do so would be a tremendous waste of my time. By failing to have that most fundamental of things called common courtesy and human decency, none of what they do or say can lead to any valuable contribution to society.

 

Doing Right

I have a friend who believes he’s right about everything and who’s not afraid to tell people as such. He once told me that everywhere he goes, there are people who can’t stand him, and I suspect he’s perfectly fine with that. My grandfather has lived his entire life like my friend. For these people, there are only friends and enemies–and only right and wrong.

Living like that could be extraordinarily lonely. Yes, friends of these people are fiercely loyal, but such friends are few and far in between. They may very well argue that that’s both exactly the point–they know, after all, that their friends are real–and besides the point–they are not deciding how to live their lives on how many friends they can make. But to follow through on convictions like that–friends and consequences be damned–requires a lot of strength.

 
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