Crazy Leader: Adolf Hitler
How best portray the man who might be the most infamous figure in all of human history? If you’re the masterful Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, there’s only one answer: all in. In Downfall, which chronicles Adolf Hitler’s final descent into raving paranoia in the spring of 1945, as the Red Army prepares to conquer Berlin and his generals and gangster cronies desert him, Ganz plays the Reich’s madman with a terrifying intensity. But he also manages to find in the Fuhrer’s galvanizing (and meme-generating) tirades something that we, the audience, can not only see and hear but (in a creepy way) share: namely, an all-consuming fear. It is impossible to feel pity for the character Ganz is portraying; but to the actor’s enduring credit, the Hitler of Downfall is no mere monster. He is a haunted, frenzied, malignantly self-absorbed villain — and, at the end, he’s all too human.