Logged in just to post this tribute. I think it's important: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1R4oUBj0L0
Ganz didn't understand or appreciate how his portrayal of Hitler was seized upon by the Internet. He didn't like that kind of notoriety, at least in the interview I watched. I'm no meme commander and not a connoisseur of the finest memes on the net, but there's something I don't think Ganz understood and I desperately wish he had...
I'm not a native German speaker. There's a pretty large portion of people in the world that aren't native German speakers. But, nobody needs to be able to speak German to understand Ganz's character. Nobody. "Downfall" memes aren't parodying Ganz, they're showcasing his ability to emote, to evoke, to draw emotion and empathy from an audience for a character no matter who that character is or what language that character is speaking. Most of the world can't understand what Ganz is saying in those re-subtitled memes. But, they don't need to - They can feel it.
There is nothing more powerful evident in a fine actor's performance as their ability to "evoke." Not their timing, not their makeup, not their booming classically trained stage-actor voice nor the way they sometimes seem to become anyone they wish with just a wardrobe change, practically unrecognizable and embodied in the character of the moment can be as magical as an actor who can demand empathy. A "believable" portrayal, a "fine performance"... These are nothing if the audience doesn't "feel." There is not one well regarded artist, actor, performer, musician or anyone else who purposefully creates a piece of art that can ever be regarded as successful, let alone a true Master, that does not also have the ability to "evoke." None. Without that, an artist is a hack, a perfunctory mechanism displayed to recite words or play notes or string letters together just to form words.
Every time I see a new "Downfall" meme vid, I get a bit... sad. I've often considered writing Ganz, just because I felt he didn't understand that his performance was so powerful, so meaningful, so very masterful that it immediately captivated millions of people that couldn't even speak the language he used in his performance. How so very masterful, so very talented, does an actor have to be to get to the apex of a performance in which the words don't matter? Rage, pain, betrayal, madness... Ganz didn't need ANY of these words to convey these emotions. None. The writer's were made irrelevant as a true master of the performing arts took the stage. All the "Downfall" memes, even the terrible ones, are all homages to his skill even if their creators don't quite understand why they are using clips from "Downfall" in the first place.
Godspeed, Bruno Ganz.