Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Rise of Downfall

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Rise of Downfall

Article excerpt

Everyone has a favourite. There's the one where Hitler finds out Michael Jackson is dead ("Anybody who does not own Thriller, Bad or Dangerous, leave now"), the one where Hitler is informed that Oasis have split up ("If you don't think Oasis are the Best Band Ever ... leave now") and the one where Hitler discovers he is flying Ryanair rather than Lufthansa for his skiing holiday in Slovakia ("Those of you unfortunate enough to have flown with those clowns before, please leave the room").

The Downfall parody, the Hitler rant - call it what you will - is one of the most enduring of all internet "memes". The conceit is simple -take the climactic scene from the 2004 film about the last days in Hitler's bunker and rewrite the subtitles according to your theme.

The scene starts quietly with Hitler's generals nervously updating the Fuhrer on military progress and then builds to the big reveal as, sweating, they inform Hitler of the Nazis' inevitable defeat. There is a lengthy pause as Hitler takes off his glasses with a shaking hand and then sends almost everyone out of the room before launching into one of the most prolonged and melodramatic rants ever committed to film.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

There have been thousands of parody videos - countless, in fact, as many of the early attempts were removed by Downfall's production company, Constantin Film, which was unamused by the fad. But the videos kept emerging, and even Downfall9s director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, recognises the amateur remakes as a tribute of sorts. …

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