If you have any doubt about the astonishing acting qualities of the Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, you only need to see “The Downfall”, the oppressive and depressive but so utterly human film about the last days of Adolf Hitler and the people in the bunker. Ganz is absolutely breathtaking, leading you to suspect that he was, in a way, more Hitler than Hitler was himself (I had the same impression, it must be said to preserve par condicio, of the great Helen Mirren in “The Queen”).
Ganz conveys the desperation, the hoping against all hope, then the realisation of the approaching end and the atmosphere of Goetterdaemmerung with such clarity and beauty, with such fanatic identification with his character, with such complete realism as to lead you to think whether such a movie would have been possible at all with any other actor than himself. The man was, in fact, so good that a vast number of parodies have been created and put on youtube, all based on his stunning performance.
Why do I mention Bruno Ganz?
Simply because by reading of Archbishop Conti’s sortie against the Tridentine Mass I was instantly reminded of Hitler’s bunker, and of Ganz/Hitler ranting with all the rage of impotence.
This is, my dear readers, what it is all about: the rants of an old guard, of people who in the meantime hear, feel and smell defeat from every part of the front line, whilst the traddie front likes the smell of Universae Ecclesiae in the morning.
Granted, changes in the Church happen far more slowly than world wars, and it would be too optimistic to say that trendy bishops are already living their April 1945. They aren’t yet. But you can compare Summorum Pontificum with the D-Day and Universae Ecclesiae with the fall of St. Lo and the resulting opening of the Falaise Gap that allowed the Allied to start their march towards Berlin.
Fairly soon, then, Bruno Ganz could be asked to impersonate a trendy bishop desperately trying to save what has remained of liturgical dances, altar “girls” of, say, 67, clownish celebrants, and extraordinary ministers, whilst his adjutants tell him with faces of purest stone that one after the other all bastions of resistance are falling and the Tridentine Mass will soon – when his successor is appointed – conquer the Cathedral.
Bruno Ganz would be, of course, just the man for the job. But thinking of it, Archbishop Conti wouldn’t be a bad candidate, either.
He is rehearsing already.