Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bruno Ganz, you're no Hitler!

We finally got around to watching Downfall, the movie which is the source of the "Hitler is angry about _____" scene so often parodied on the internet.

It's an all right movie, with great action sequences in the outdoors shots of Berlin being bombed, and most of the scenes inside the bunker have a very claustrophobic feeling to them. But for the most part, it failed to capture my attention.

The worst part of the movie is Ganz, who doesn't feel like Hitler in the least. Poking around online, it looks like everyone lauded his performance as the broken-down shell of a man at the end of his life, but it just felt wrong. But this problem does not seem unique to this film. Surprisingly, I can't recall ANY actor who has played Hitler well. It must be the taboo nature of the character (or possibly a curse from Hitler's ghost?). I would expect the role would be a wonderful challenge for any actor worth his salt, but I suspect the taboo nature of doing a good job portraying Hitler has made anyone capable of playing him well shy away from the role.


  1. I think they cast him because he was good at the cartoonish "upset Hitler" tantrums.

  2. I totally agree with you. I don't know any persuasive Hitler actor (except for maybe the guy in Mel Brooks' The Producers) and Bruno Ganz is one of the worst. As A German, I really dislike this film, because it completely whitewashes the people around Hitler and especially this SS doctor, who in reality was one of the perpetrators.

  3. When i was watching Hitler's circle leave the bunker after his suicide and try to mingle with the soldiers and civilians in the streets it struck me as odd that one of the women in the group donned an SS uniform. The SS were singled out for immediate arrest and retribution by partisans and the Allied armies. Anyone wandering around Berlin in an SS uniform at that time would have been shot on the spot. Note to Stephan. How did this movie "whitewash" the people around Hitler? It spent a lot of time on Magda Goebbals preparing to poison her children. What? Not enough lingering shots of quaking pits full of Holocaust corpses for you?

  4. Agreed. I suppose a cartoonish, brown-eyed Hitler better fits the tired, old JR-high BS line that so inspired sympathy in an eleven year old me:

    "If Hitler entered this room right now, xxxx (pointing at me) would be the only one to survive because he has blonde hair and blue eyes, even though Hitler himself had brown hair and brown eyes!"

    Wait, what of Alec Guiness? Even if like all the others nowhere near the character Hitler's acquaintances all speak of, the guy deserves a nod for looking a LOT like him!

  5. @ Dramane. I thought Hitler had blue eyes? I have heard that he had brown eyes but I thought that rumor was started to superficialy discredit him. There has to be color pictures or a birth certificate for him somewhere.

    On topic I think the reason why actors only portray Hitler as a raving sociopath, child molester, animal abuser, incestuous (yes I've seen them all) is because no actor is willing to loose their career for portraying the most reviled man in history as a person with quite normal interests and relationships perhaps even caring and endearing to those close to him.

  6. Yes, blue eyes. I thought so.
    From Adolf Hitler, by John Toland (1976)
    ISBN 0385420536
    (p. 174-5) [American] Hanfstaengel...was particularly impressed with the speaker's [Hitler's] clear blue guileless eyes. "There was honesty, there was sincerity, there was suffering and the dignity of mute entreaty."