Spending two-and-a-half hours inside the mind of a hunted, frantic, mass-murdering tyrant is hardly most moviegoers’ idea of a good time. But who knew that the tectonic collapse of a political system — embodied in a single human form — could be as riveting as Bruno Ganz’s magisterial turn in Downfall? It’s the spring of 1945. Berlin is falling to the Red Army. With his generals and his gangster cronies deserting and surrendering as fast as they flocked to him years before, Adolf Hitler (Ganz) stalks his squalid bunker, railing against the collapse of his “Thousand Year Reich.” This is not a “war movie” any more than Best Years of Our Lives, Paths of Glory or Deer Hunter were war movies. Instead, it’s a movie about madness (Ganz’s Fuhrer, alternately self-pitying and scarily ferocious, is a repulsive but thoroughly galvanizing creature), and about the ways that communities, parties and entire nations can confuse mutant nationalism with patriotism, jingoism with discourse, total war with political action.
Next Bulworth (1998)