Bruno Ganz Hitler in 'Downfall': Should Real-Life Monster Be Portrayed as Movie Monster?

Bruno Ganz Hitler Downfall Humanizing Der FührerBruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler in 'Downfall': Humanizing Der Führer?

Bruno Ganz Hitler movie: 'Downfall' humanizes Der Führer?

Adolf Hitler, one of history's most hated monsters, has undergone a humanizing makeover in the German film Downfall / Der Untergang: Hitler und das Ende des 3. Reiches, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and starring Swiss-born actor Bruno Ganz as Hitler.

Based on historian Joachim Fest's bestselling Adolf Hitler biography and on the memoirs of the Nazi dictator's last personal secretary, Traudl Junge, Downfall chronicles the last days of the German Führer, besieged inside his underground bunker while the Soviet Red Army battled Nazi forces on the ground.

During that period, Hitler suffers from psychotic delusions and goes into mad rages, but also shows courteousness and even warmth toward Junge (played by Alexandra Maria Lara) and his wife-to-be Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler).

Bruno Ganz as Hitler: 'Fleeting sympathy'

Joachim Fest, who acted as a “historical consultant” during the production of Downfall, affirms that Bruno Ganz “is really Hitler. When you look at him you feel a chill down your spine.”

Ganz, who received worldwide acclaim for his humanized angel in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, says the following about his humanized monster: “I'm not ashamed of the fact that I could feel sympathy for [Adolf Hitler] during fleeting seconds.”

A human monster?

Others, however, have been troubled by this newfound humanness. Some in the German press have complained that Oliver Hirschbiegel's Hitler movie will be eagerly embraced by neo-Nazis, though the venerated Der Spiegel, which recently devoted a cover story to Downfall, has asserted that producer-screenwriter Bernd Eichinger achieved a unique feat in the film by “giving the absurd drama in the bunker a real face.”

Produced at a cost of 13.5 million euros (US$16.5 million), the two-and-a-half-hour Downfall is one of the most expensive German films ever made. It opens in Germany on Sept. 16, '04.

See also: “'Downfall' Movie: Box-Office Hit in Germany.”

'Der Untergang' film cast

Besides Bruno Ganz as Hitler, the Downfall movie cast also includes the aforementioned Juliane Köhler as Eva Braun and Alexandra Maria Lara as Traudl Junge, in addition to Ulrich Matthes as Joseph Goebbels, Corinna Harfouch as Magda Goebbels, Thomas Kretschmann as Hermann Fegelein, and Heino Ferch as Albert Speer.

Prior to playing Adolf Hitler, Bruno Ganz was last seen in a small role as a scientist in Jonathan Demme's The Manchurian Candidate remake, starring Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, and Meryl Streep. Ganz is best known internationally for his leads in Wings of Desire / Der Himmel über Berlin and another Wim Wenders' effort, The American Friend / Der Amerikanische Freund.


Bruno Ganz Hitler Downfall movie image: Constantin Film.

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4 Comments to Bruno Ganz Hitler in 'Downfall': Should Real-Life Monster Be Portrayed as Movie Monster?

  1. Mike Peterson

    I've been looking for a movie; I presume “Faces in the Mirror…” but have the feeling that “Downfall” may be the ticket, instead: Adolf Hitler is facing his inevitable destruction in the Reich bunker, and it goes on, after the inevitable destruction.

    Instead, he is facing a post-apocolyptic, post after-death in a kind of nether world in which things tend to unravel, unnaturally, in a kind of dream sequence which goes more and more “unnatural” as time goes by. Goering, Himmler and Hess all fall away (as well as Eva Braun) and he, and only he, is left alone. I find it to be very haunting, as well as very looooong!

    Could I possibly be “barking up” the RIGHT tree?

  2. hans

    Bruno Ganz should have been nominated for an Academy Award. Ganz's Hitler was a fully believable creation. A masterwork.

  3. ALH

    Bruno Ganz WAR Hitler in Der Untergang (Downfall movie).

  4. lene

    Bruno Ganz's Hitler was a masterful creation. Ganz is one of the greatest actors anywhere in the world.