Saturday 16 February 2019

Vale Bruno Ganz - One of Europe's great actors has died

Bruno Ganz, Black and White Like Day and Night
Bruno Ganz had a prolific career as an actor, working in half a dozen countries and appearing in at least 120 films and television programs over almost sixty years. He is of course best known for Downfall, not just the film but the hundreds of parodies that dubbed new dialogue over the scene where Adolf Hitler rants in the Berlin bunker. Click on the link for one about Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull. 

I’m not sure if I realised who he was or saw outstanding talent in Eric Rohmer’s 1976 Die Marquise von O but a couple of years later he did the first of three films for Wim Wenders, the director’s adaptation of Patricia HighsmithThe American Friend. His big hit for Wenders was Wings of Desire.  Before then Ronin Films had distributed a little telemovie in which Ganz played a paranoid chess player, Black and White Like Day and Night (Wolfgang Petersen). I think the company learned that films about paranoid chess players, no matter how ‘good’ are not big box office. A near pristine 35mm copy should be somewhere in the NFSA in Canberra.

Ganz, a Swiss-German, had one role in an Australian film, Gillian Armstrong’s The Last Days of Chez Nous in which he played a Frenchman, J P, who disrupted the lives of three sisters.  (Publicity still at left.)

I’ve never forgotten a moment at the Berlin Film Festival when a female film distributor tugged my sleeve and said “Now there goes one of the most handsome men in the world”. She was almost swooning. I turned and saw Bruno Ganz wandering past.

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