Sympathy for the Devil

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HUMAN TOUCH: Bruno Ganz's portrayal of Hitler has unsettled audiences

For 50 years, Germany has shied away from presenting Adolf Hitler as the main character in a movie. Since Hitler is a monstrous presence in the national memory, realistic portrayals on the big screen were considered bad taste — and sympathetic portrayals were unthinkable. Other countries made big-budget World War II epics with Hollywood stars such as Alec Guinness and Anthony Hopkins playing Hitler, but the last German-language film about Hitler and his subordinates, The Last Act, was produced in 1955 — and its Hitler was a raving lunatic. Now a new German film about Hitler's final days in the bunker,...