Uwe Boll’s Film Auschwitz (2011)

Auschwitz Ewe Boll movie review Above the Line Practical movie reviewsI had no idea.  No really.  None.  Not for a second did I consider just how unsettled I would feel after watching the trailer for German filmmaker Uwe Boll’s upcoming film Auschwitz.  I’m not referring to the subject matter or the message, not the filmmaker or his previous films to date – though that would most likely provide even more fodder for this article.  What motivated me to stop everything and write about a film I have not seen is illustrated by the seemingly casual way in which the filmmaker employs horror value with all the reserve and forethought of an adolescent without supervision.

Uwe Boll prefers shock value and in your face confrontation over substantive treatments of serious subjects. It is apparent that Mr. Boll intends to send a message with Auschwitz and all thought and consideration, all tact and subtlety was never considered an integral part of the delivery.  I can’t help but recall the dreary cult film Faces of Death that shot to public attention and outcry in 1978, subsequently spawning numerous sequels that for all intent and purposes served little more than peep show fascination with the machination of death and dying. I’m also reminded of German filmmaker Michael Haneke’s 2007 film Funny Games – which is actually a remake of the movie of the same title by Haneke in 1997 with a different cast.  Funny Games is a deceptively unrewarding film that makes sport the consequence of action while reducing humanity to the spoils of two psychotic youths on a killing spree. In similar fashion, the undeterred emotional and psychological recklessness of Auschwitz is intended to ensnare squeamish audiences and Holocaust devotee’s who prefer absolute horror reenactment to truthful performance through imaginary circumstances.  Subtlety is not Mr. Boll’s forte and perhaps that in and of itself should be preface alone for the spectacle presented here.

The subject of the atrocities of World War II and the unspeakable horrors of the concentration camps is not original to cinema or the theater.  In fact, there are over a hundred and fifty movies listed at Wikipedia covering the subject with varying degrees of purposefulness and authenticity, including a select minority of dissonant versions intended as superficial backdrop for ineffective and historically inconsiderate stories.  Orson Welles’ 1946 film, The Stranger is purported to be the first feature film to contain footage of concentration camps and perhaps in no small way informed Spielberg’s 1993 film Schindler’s List among others.  So how does one approach the subject of the unimaginable, the abject inhumanity of the Holocaust when so many others have already permanently etched images of thick plumes of smoke billowing from perfect stone chimney spires and the corpses of rail thin men, women and children gathered like cord wood?

Auschwitz in the hands of Boll serves little more than a message delivery system for that which has already been accomplished by far superior filmmakers.  No one is going to forget, Mr. Boll and to assume that the audacity of your effort will somehow reveal that which cannot be revealed is juvenile if not discourteous. Perhaps as a basis for understanding Uwe Bolls’ Auschwitz we must consider his treatment as genuine in an effort to show how it really was without gimmickry or resorting to a shallow Hollywood treatment.  But I don’t believe that any more than you do.  What is evident here is a filmmaker of modest talent who decided to make a film that no one but the staid, devout cinéaste or horror porn enthusiast would stomach.  Some films, regardless of intent fail to achieve that which they strive for and I attest this is the case with Auschwitz.  The only relatable portraits of human nature are varied and complicated, conflicted with emotionally jagged edges that catch and snag with every stumble and half step through life.

Focusing only on monsters that exist without remorse and guilt, devoid of even the most remote suspicion of humanity is to suggest a world that is incapable of perspective without condemnation of the overt.  Absolutes are rarely as interesting as they seem and after the glittery fascination with the macabre of this film wanes, thankfully Mr. Boll too will recede.

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About rorydean

Rory Dean is a multi-medium artist, writer and new media strategist with a background as a creative consultant and technology liaison in the San Francisco Bay Area. His broad experiences and specialties include print-to-web publicity, promotions and design marketing using traditional and social media networks. As a motion pictures and television professional, his short films, productions and commercials have screened to domestic and international audiences. His connections to a diverse client base include artists, entertainers, corporations, non-profits and everyday people.. Dean is co-owner and founder of Dissave Pictures, a boutique production company focusing on audio, video, photography and multi-media designs. Dean's personal and professional background includes dreaming and avid notebook journaling, creative and copy writing, promotions and marketing, audio/video production, photography, videography, editing, web design and new media. He’s also a fan of collaboration and knows when to turn the reigns over, offer feedback, lead the team and step aside. His portfolio includes print, online, film, video, photography, graphic design and promotions. He’ll show you. He has a book and everything. "When not juggling various online worlds, I do a pretty good mime – but that’s another story."
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6 Responses to Uwe Boll’s Film Auschwitz (2011)

  1. Rodney says:

    Describing Uwe Boll as a filmmaker of modest talent…. well…. ahhhh.

    I doubt this will be a good film, or even an average film. Why, oh why, does Boll keep getting funding for his films? Now THERE’S a question that bears asking.

    • rorydean says:

      I take it you’re not a big fan of Mr. Boll or his belabored, incendiary body of work? My wife actually brought it to my attention that for every film or filmmaker I review, I should employ a ballast of some sort in an effort to even out my criticism or to some degree offer at least one opposing observation – I suppose the mention of his ‘modest’ talents was an effort in objectivity. It’s increasingly difficult with films and filmmakers like Mr. Boll but C’est la vie, no?

      I actually read somewhere that there is a particularly interesting tax incentive in Germany for film investors that place them in the position of only having to pay taxes on the revenue generated by their financing, thus elevating the rest of their income from taxes. That sounds a bit preposterous. I guess I better find that article I read.

      • rorydean says:

        Hi Crassius, Thanks for bringing this article to my attention. I’m curious though, aside from the point of view of that article on cinemablend, which is astute if not thorough and exacting in its criticism, what if anything further would you add here regarding my article? Boll will continue to make films as controversy is certainly barometer enough for some and given his following outside the U.S., I have not doubts we’ll see something in the not so distant future as equally appalling. That’s what I love about this forum, the opportunity to poke the dark and see what pokes back.

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