If there was an Oscar for Best Screen Hitler, Anthony Hopkins would have scooped it for his commanding take on the Great Dictator in the 1981 TV flick The Bunker. In Downfall, a grim but resolutely gripping reconstruction of Hitler's final days, Bruno Ganz gives Sir Tony a run for his Deutschmarks - - playing Hitler with a ferocity and compassion never seen on screen before. Set as the Third Reich crumbles and the Führer loses both his power and his sanity, Oliver Hirschbiegel's drama is an imposing attempt to bring history to life that throws us headlong into the nervy, end-of-the-line chaos of April 1945. Ganz, who spent months studying Parkinson's patients to capture Hitler's shaky constitution, turns in a powerhouse performance - - part apoplectic rage, part egomaniac madness - - that daringly tries to put a human face on a monster. The Discovery Channel's got nothing on this.
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