The death of Swiss acting star Bruno Ganz has made the headlines across the globe. While the international press praises his unique acting talent, Swiss media have concentrated on Ganz as a person.
“Swiss cinema has lost its biggest star in Bruno Ganz,” said the SonntagsZeitungexternal link. But Ganz never forgot his humble Zurich roots, the newspaper wrote.
The NZZ am Sonntag wrote how Ganzexternal link, in an interview, had talked of needing a strong will to succeed when you came from humble background.
On his talent, the NZZ am Sonntag defined him as a character actor who could, in his heyday, live his roles so completely that you forgot that he was world famous.
And he was a star. “The big problem that the Swiss film industry talks about nowadays of not being able to break through abroad was not something that applied to him,” the newspaper noted.
Thank you, Bruno Ganz
“Thank you, Bruno Ganz,” was the title on tabloid Blick’sexternal link front page, which devoted six pages to the actor. It revealed in an interview with one of Ganz’s friends, Daniel Rohr, that the actor’s partner and his son were with him when he died.
There was more on Ganz the person in its editorial, which detailed how the actor had returned to the city of his birth in his later years, eschewing Hollywood. He was often seen in the Zurich Niederdörfli area, “always wearing a rucksack on his shoulders and a mischievous smile on his face”.
He may have come across as irascible and arrogant in his younger years, but this was due to his reliance on alcohol, wrote Dominik Hug. But Ganz recognised his fallibility quickly and changed for the better. “And this is what made him a great man”.
The French-speaking Swiss press also wrote about Ganz, although he did not make the front page in Le Matin Dimancheexternal link. Its editorial said one image in particular stood out: that of Ganz as the angel who comes back to Earth in Wim Wender’s Wings of Desire. This, it said, embodies Ganz: his apparent simplicity, his humanity and his depth, “leaving a unique trace on the big screen”.
Voices from abroad
The New York Timesexternal link also remembered Ganz’s portrayal of the angel, as well as his international standout role as Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
The Hollywood Reporterexternal link called him “an iconic figure in the German-speaking world and beyond, his gravely, Swiss-accented voice as instantly recognizable as his mercurial style, which could shift from reserved and withdrawn to volcanic in an instant”.
Poetic and inspired
Britain’s The Guardianexternal link called him "poetic and inspired".
It noted that it was sometimes the fate of great actors to be remembered by something more trivial. In Ganz’s case, he became “iconic to a younger generation for the endless viral YouTube memesexternal link based on his terrifying bunker rant as Hitler in the 2004 movie Downfall”.
“But the point is that the Downfall scene became meme-able because of the potency and brilliance of Bruno Ganz’s performance in this film,” it wrote. Until then it had been rare for a German-speaking actor to play Hitler and even rarer to show Hitler in his final days.
“The intelligence and fineness of his acting will be much missed.”