It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
“Hitler: The Last Ten Days” is a movie that doesn’t supply many answers about the evil man’s death, and doesn’t even seem to understand what the questions are. The death trip that went on inside Hitler’s Berlin bunker has a grisly fascination of its own, but this movie doesn’t get inside the characters; it isn’t demented enough, somehow. If poor Visconti hadn’t entirely wigged out with “The Damned,” he might have been the right director for this assignment.
As it is, we get a fashion show (heavy on the red lipstick, please) and a lot of secondhand historical gossip. Hitler and Eva Braun, it appears, spent their last days together in much the same manner as Bonnie and Clyde. They listened to records, got tender and were just on the blink of - at last! - consummating their mutual romantic fantasies when the Russians and/or Texas Rangers had to spoil everything. “Bonnie and Clyde” at least had the grace to give us a moment of silence after the shooting, so that the fact of death could sink in.
“Hitler” has an incredibly off-key ending (the tone is wrong, even if it’s historically accurate; movies have artistic license to lie, if necessary). Hitler never allowed anyone to smoke, you see, and so the first thing everyone does when they learn he’s dead is . . . light up.
The facts in the movie have been certified as accurate by no less than Hugh Trevor-Roper, who, it is said, should know. I have a rule of thumb about historical movies, and it’s this: Always beware if the producer starts telling you how accurate his facts are. Accuracy is almost always a cop-out in these matters; It means the director and the writers have failed to find an artistically satisfying point of view toward their material. Facts mean nothing compared to truth. And truth, as always, is as elusive as artistry.