The Bunker (1981 film)

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The Bunker
The Bunker 1981.jpg
Directed by George Schaefer
Produced by
Screenplay by John Gay
Based on The Bunker 
by James P. O'Donnell
Country United States
Language English
Original channel CBS
Time-Life Productions
Release date January 27, 1981 (1981-01-27)
Running time 154 minutes

The Bunker is a 1981 CBS television film, Time/Life production based on the book The Bunker.[1] The film makes significant deviations from James O'Donnell's book, published in 1975. The deviations are mainly due to an effort to clarify the events and allow the actors license to interpret some of the dialogue he recorded. The film opens in 1945, with O'Donnell's gaining entry to the Führerbunker by bribing a Russian sentry with a pack of cigarettes.

The most noteworthy legacy of the film was Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Adolf Hitler, for which he won an Emmy. Actors on the set claimed his performance was so convincing that those playing German soldiers snapped to attention whenever Hopkins came onto the set, even if he wasn't in character.

The actors' interpretations of the events differ in ways from the traditional accounts. For example, during the final meeting between Hitler and Albert Speer, Hopkins adopts a sarcastic tone and gestures (including mock applause) that suggest that Hitler was already aware of Speer's betrayal, even though he uses the exact words recounted by the witnesses.[citation needed] This became a fairly controversial scene due to a perception in some circles that the resemblance to Jesus Christ's legendary foreseeing of Judas's betrayal was intentional. These accusations were consistently denied[by whom?], as were reports regarding a rumored on-set romance between Piper Laurie (Magda Goebbels) and Cliff Gorman (Joseph Goebbels).

Also, the movie constantly shifts the point-of-view character, but sometimes in an impossible manner. For example, Dr. Werner Haase is used in this manner, even though he was never interviewed (having died later in 1950). Likewise, two scenes are written from the viewpoint of Hitler's cook, Constanze Manziarly, and in one scene, Manziarly actually has a flashback. However, Manziarly disappeared while escaping the bunker, so neither O'Donnell nor any other person was able to interview her or get her viewpoint.

Ironically, given O'Donnell's work on the breakout, the movie ends just as the groups are leaving the bunker complex of the Reich Chancellery, and there is never any explanation given for the flamboyant caviar scene.

In a short scene at the beginning of the movie, a younger O'Donnell is played by actor James Naughton. O'Donnell himself provided brief voice-over narrations at the beginning and end of the film.



  1. ^ J. O'Connor, John (January 27, 1981). "TV: 'Bunker,' On Hitler's Last Days". The New York Times. 

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