Saturday, 8 June 2013

Ausschwitz (unrated)

Whatever the DVD cover above suggests, this isn't a film drama. It's a documentary by Uwe Boll about the Ausschwitz concentration camp and the Holocaust in general. I really don't know how to rate it, so I didn't. It's not very informative, as far as facts are concerned, but that wasn't Uwe's intention. Rather than make a documentary that tells us about Ausschwitz, he's made a documentary telling us how little people know about Ausschwitz. If anything it should be seen as a taster that inspires the viewers to do their own research.

The film begins with an introduction by Uwe. Then there is a series of questions posed to German schoolchildren, probably aged 15 to 16. Then there is a 30 minute dramatisation of a typical day in Ausschwitz. Finally more questions are posed to children.

Uwe's introduction is curious. He speaks in German, then repeats what he just said in English. Then he goes back to German, then English, speaking the two languages alternately. Curious is the fact that he doesn't repeat himself exactly. When he speaks English he starts the same way, but goes off in a different direction. Only people who understand both languages will get the most from his introduction. The main thing that he says is that today's children know nothing about Ausschwitz, and recent films don't help because they concentrate on heroes. His intention is to show Ausschwitz as it really was, without any heroic adornment: Jews went there, they were killed, their bodies were burnt, the end.

The second part, the interviewing of the schoolhildren, is hampered by poor English subtitles. The answers given by the children may seem stupid, but if you can understand German they're even worse. Typical questions and answers are:

"How many Jews did Hitler kill?" -- "A lot, more than a thousand"

"When did the Holocaust take place?" -- "The 1800's"

The third part, the dramatisation of a day in Ausschwitz, is chilling. So many people talk about Hitler being evil, but Uwe Boll shows us that the normal German was just as evil. While Jews are being gassed the officers sit and talk about their holiday plans. Babies that cry too loud are shot in the head. It was truly awful.

Finally, in the fourth part children are interviewed again. The second batch of children seem to be better educated. Their answers aren't perfect, but they aren't quite as stupid. These children evidently paid attention in their History lessons.

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