Director: Uwe Boll (2011)
Starring: Uwe Boll, Hitler.
Uwe Boll's sensitively handled, well-intentioned docu-drama about Auschwitz. Yes, it's completely real and totally available on DVD. I'm still not entirely convinced that Auschwitz exists. And I watched it for myself last night. Clarification: when I say things like "I'm not convinced that Auschwitz exists" try to take that in context. If however, I say something like "Auschwitz is shit", you can take that however you like.
Another non-Holocaust denier is Doctor Uwe Boll, apparently. The infamous movie director and boxer has created this documentary-slash-drama to educate those he fears are in danger of forgetting about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. Like the director of that Serbian Film (I forget the title) he makes a little speech before the film starts declaring his intentions. You can see him thinking to himself "no, nobody will dare take the pisses out of me for this movie." People are beginning to forget about Auschwitz, Doc Boll posits. Leave it to the director of House Of The Dead to remind us all. Totally sensitively, mind.
Just like that sensitive movie he made about 9/11.
Not even past the DVD menu, Auschwitz shows how sensitive it is. You select things by moving a little swastika around the screen. I'm sure that'll offend no-one. The DVD proves that it's not racist by having a trailer for a soppy Denzel Washington movie that will interest literally nobody who enjoys Uwe Boll movies. Following Boll's introduction (I suppose a review of a movie like Auschwitz is not the place to comment on the Doctor's bad skin) the movie cuts to what looks like either a toilet or a shower room, where Boll is interviewing a number of teenage kids. He asks them things like "what do you know about the Holocaust?" and "why did Hitler hate the Jews?" There's ten minutes of this nonsense, which would be interesting if I hadn't covered it during the first five minutes of GCSE History. Then, the main event:
The drama bit of Uwe Boll's docu-drama. It depicts the arrival of a large number of Jews at Auschwitz. Moments later, the infants and younger children are separated from the adults and shot in the head. On camera. I'm not a big watcher of sensitively handled things, but I'm still pretty positive that shooting children in the head is not the way to go about being sensitive. The rest of the victims are sent to the showers where they strip off and await the inevitable. Meanwhile, two Nazi officers talk about their holidays and birthdays whilst drinking vodka. Admittedly, this bit works well, showing the banality of evil and the terrifyingly human face of Nazi. In the background, Uwe Boll hulks around as the only Nazi officer who apparently doesn't have to wear a helmet, eating a sandwich.
I'd imagine that this is a pretty adequate summation of his directorial style too; skulking around the background like Sasquatch, eating a sandwich and barking orders. He's a good actor too, really selling the character of a bored Nazi who just wants to eat his sandwich and lean against doors. The gas is pumped into the showers and the unfortunates' death is depicted in very sensitive detail. I'm sure nobody could ever be offended by Boll's depiction of the slow, humiliating, agonizing death of all those people - very old and very young alike - especially the lingering closeups of their naked flesh or pained death throes. Once they're dead, Boll has the bodies gathered up and fed into an incinerator.
"How they were for real... Killing Factories!"
OMG because up till' now I thought it was like Disneyland
The drama part of Auschwitz lasts no longer than half an hour, but it manages to pack in gratuitous infanticide, all sorts of nudity, tooth removal, an extended gassing sequence and Uwe Boll eating a sandwich. There's one shot that comes from a better, more moving film - the ashes of the Death Camp's victims rising into a grey, apocalyptic sky - but nothing else even approaches approaches that level of emotion, so it's lost amongst the violence and torture nonsense. And that's what Auschwitz is - the ultimate torture flick.
Not over yet, Auschwitz switches back to documentary mode. Alongside the interviews and talking heads is inserted news footage and photographs from the real Auschwitz. This is a lot harder to watch than any of Boll's facile dramatizations - which come across as deleted scenes from Seed anyway - and completely destroys any pretension of sensitivity. Far from Schindler's List, this movie has more in common with a Faces Of Death. It's an exploitation movie, and for anyone to pretend otherwise is more offensive than anything else Boll could have done with it. It's a staggeringly desperate cry to be taken seriously.
Maybe Uwe Boll does care about the subject, but everything outside of his silly speeches in Auschwitz suggest otherwise. If he felt outraged or saddened by the subject matter (feelings which Auschwitz somehow manages to fail in milking) surely he wouldn't be dressing himself up as a Nazi for the movie? Or joking about Nazi gold in Postal? If he was really outraged, then how could he bring himself to use the Nazis as comedy villains in Blubberella or Bloodrayne: Third Reich? Quite right the Nazis should be mocked, degraded and spoofed. But Auschwitz sits ill-at-ease with his other movies. Boll's intentions were no doubt good. But Auschwitz is to films about the Holocaust as I Spit On Your Grave is rape.
Anyone with more than a passing interest in modern history or a GCSE in the subject will find nothing new in Auschwitz. For history noobs, it's fine and I hope the film does well. As a documentary, it's boring and uninformative. As a drama, it's grotesque but feels pointless. Auschwitz wasn't very nice. Who knew?