Auschwitz
Olive Films // Unrated // $14.95 // May 26, 2015
Review by Ian Jane | posted June 9, 2015
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Graphical Version
The Movie:

Produced and directed by the one and only Uwe Boll, best known for trash classics like House Of The Dead and Postal, 2011's Auschwitz sees the director at least trying to create a serious film about a serious subject. He doesn't succeed with flying colors, mind you, but it really does appear that he tried. If nothing else, this is an interesting experiment.

Boll himself introduces the movie by explaining what his intentions were here. It seems that awareness of the Holocaust is low in Germany. He ascertains this by interviewing various German teenagers to get their opinions on what happened. As they seem poorly informed, he decides that he's basically going to tell it like it is and as such, we wind up with a lengthy depiction of Boll's interpretation of what being in Auschwitz would have been like. He offers us his take on things as an alternative to big, glossy Hollywood productions like Schindler's List.

So with that setup out of the way, we voyage headfirst into what is essentially a low budget atrocity exhibition. Granted, what happened at Auschwitz was horrible, deplorable and disgusting. There's a reason we should never forget what happened there and Boll's accusations of Hollywood sugarcoating are understandable, but the movie definitely pulls no punches in its depictions of real life horror. Gold teeth are removed, infants are shot in the head, hordes are executed in the gas chamber and it becomes obvious that, yes, Boll is following through on his promise to deliver something that he at least deems to be realistic. And in many ways it probably is. Granted, the man is working on a low budget here and the acting from some of the principals involved with the production is more than questionable, however, you're left wondering if he really is trying to make a serious film or if he's actually just using controversy and shock value to draw an audience.

In some ways, Boll shoots himself in the foot in the opening scenes where he's interviewing German teenagers. Yes, a few of them seem fairly clueless about this dark part of their country's history but so too do we see those who are quite aware of it. There are situations that arise on camera where his questions become more than a little leading and because of this, we wind up with the feeling that since he wasn't necessarily getting what he wanted out of these ‘man on the street' style interviews, like any filmmaker can, he chose to manipulate things to suit his actual agenda for the picture: to get to the nasty stuff and show it in unflinching detail.

So with the director's proclaimed intentions called into question, how does the actual film stack up? It's an unpleasant experience to be sure, and it should be when dealing with a subject like this. The production values here aren't top notch, the sets aren't all that convincing but the effects are sufficiently gory. Oddly enough, Boll casts himself in the film as an SS guard.

If nothing else, and despite whatever questions may arise about the motives behind the very existence of the movie in the first place, the movie makes you think. It does draw awareness to the events that shaped it and that can't be a bad thing.

The DVD:

Video:

Auschwitz arrives on DVD from Olive Films in 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen and it looks pretty decent. Shot on HD video, the film is obviously free of any print damage though some archival footage is used here and understandably there's a drop in quality when that happens. Otherwise, this is clean, stable and about as colorful as it can be given the content. There are no problems with compression issues and detail is fine for a standard definition offering.

Sound:

The German language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, which comes with English subtitles, is clean, clear and properly balanced. The dialogue scenes are just that, simple dialogue scenes, so there's not a ton to discuss there but the reenactments have a bit more activity going on and you do notice it. This mix works perfectly fine.

Extras:

There are no extras on the disc, just a static menu offering scene selection.
Final Thoughts:

Auschwitz shows a more serious side of Uwe Boll. The movie is rarely perfect, as it suffers from budgetary limitations and some occasionally iffy acting, but the film is at least blunt and unapologetic about realistically depicting the horrors of its subject. Does it delve into nasty exploitation at times? Yes, frequently, and that makes us have to question the sincerity of Boll's intentions here, but it's an interesting movie regardless, albeit not one for all tastes. If, like many others, you're fascinated by Boll's filmography then yes, you'll want to check this out. If you're new to his work or just don't understand why some continue to seek out his movies, this won't change your mind. So that's a pretty middle of the road summary to be sure… which I guess means it gets slapped with the trusty ol' rent it stamp.



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