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Recommendation

The Bunker (1981)

 
 

Bunker Ill

Anthony Hopkins in The Bunker (1981)

With the allies relentless pressure becoming too much Hitler (Anthony Hopkins) and his senior officials descend into the bunker on the 16th January 1945. Still with delusions of Grandeur Hitler believes that the war can still be won although also believes that if Germany are to lose then everything in Germany should be destroyed as to leave nothing for the allies when they take over. It is something which Albert Speer (Richard Jordan) strongly disagrees with as he fears for the German's who will be left knowing full well that the war has already been lost. But as the days pass it is clear that Hitler is descending deeper into madness until eventually Hitler and those closest to him prepare for their final acts before the war is completely lost.

"The Bunker" starts with the character of James O'Donnell entering the dark, flooded corridors of the Bunker and telling us basically what follows is based on accounts from those who know but that time may have caused the memories to distort. It is a nice inclusion and a clever one as having never read the real James O'Donnell's book on which "The Bunker" is based it excuses any inaccuracies.

Martin Jarvis and Michael Kitchen in The Bunker (1981)

Anyway after that we get to experience those 100 plus days in the Bunker and Hitler's decline in to madness as he declares that the whole of Germany should be destroyed if they lose the war. But we also see the conflict between people from members of his staff talking about him behind his back to disagreement with his close friend Speer over the destruction of Germany and admitting that they had lost. There is a lot more and I am sure the depth is of great pleasure to the historians who watch "The Bunker" yet at the same time it is not dry or fact heavy for those like me with more of a general curiosity and a need to be entertained as well as informed.

What is interesting is director Schaefer's approach to the story employing a lesser of two evils approach to make it work. What I mean by that is he uses Albert Speer as a voice of reason, the one who tries to convince Hitler the war is over and in doing so making him a good guy in a sense of being a lesser of two evils. He also employs the use of flashbacks to provide depth to supporting characters and creating a bigger picture as to how things were in Germany before and then how they had become. It makes for a surprisingly engaging movie which at 150 minutes long, 3 hours with adverts, never drags or becomes bogged down with the heavy atmosphere drawing you in from the word go.

What also draws you in are the performances and "The Bunker" is full of captivating performances from Richard Jordon as the voice of reason right down to Martin Jarvis as an engineer. But it is Anthony Hopkins who makes the movie, who commands your attention with a full on performance which captivates you as he delivers Hitler's state of mind and deteriorating health as he took refuge in the Bunker. Some may say Hopkins best performance was as Lecter but for me it is this chilling performance as Hitler which blows me the way the most. He manages to show the split personality as one minute we see him raging as his own staff the next being the kindly Uncle to another person's children.

What this all boils down to is that "The Bunker" with its subject matter and long running time might not sound like something you would like to watch but trust me it grabs you from the word go and never lets you go. And it is the most chilling performance from Anthony Hopkins which makes this good TV movie great with a performance so complete that once seen it is never forgotten.

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