I picked this up in a store during a recent portcall. It's been abandoned to the ship's DVD library...
I didn't notice it was by Uwe Boll, else alarms would have rung and I'd have left it on the shelf. Like others, I thought it was going to be a proper movie, probably in the docu-drama genre. Well, it is a bit - once you get past the "interviews" with the surprisingly holocaust-ignorant German teenagers (I say "surprising" because, to the best of my knowledge, the holocaust is a non-negotiable part of the German curriculum, and holocaust denial is a criminal offence) you get a "docu-drama" of a day-in-the-life of the death camps, from the train arrival to the gassing. Apart from the poor direction and the even poorer script there are loads of inaccuracies. In the main, this seems to be a vehicle to indulge some sort of desire to get as many sets of male and female genitalia of a variety of ages in shot, which is where a glaring error reveals itself insofar as Brazilian waxing wasn't a thing of the time!!
But, really, that's a minor thing when it comes to the plethora of other "licenses" taken with history. From the moment the train pulls in they start to add up. In one brief clip some of the prisoners are seen dismounting a carriage, when prisoners were transported standing-room-only in cattle trucks, with the carriage in the train being provided for the guards. As the train arrives, a private soldier is smoking on the platform in an army where discipline was strict and smoking on duty was a no-no in the Wehrmacht let alone the SS. The commandant addresses soldiers with uniforms bearing SS flashes as "fahnrich" and "leutnant," when the SS equivalent ranks are "standartenjunker" and "untersharfuhrer" respectively. The commandant sits outside the gas chamber and socialises with an NCO, sharing (on duty!) a glass or two of schnapps, whilst looking out some jewellery to give to his wife (such theft from the Reich being a capital offence). The NCO in charge of the gas chamber (played by Boll) leans unmoved and completely detached against the gas chamber door as the victims hammer on it during the gassing when the antechamber was routinely cleared in case of leaks. As the "movie" progresses there seems to be less and less people in the gas chamber - in reality, it was filled to capacity on each use. Afterwards, the bodies are lying in their own space, arranged on the floor. The reality: desperate victims climbed over each other to reach the roof vent where the gas was dropped in in an effort to find clean air, resulting in a bloody, bruised pyramid in the middle of the room. They would also scratch deep gouges in the concrete with their fingers in panic. None of the junior ranks salute or even come to attention when the commandant or any other officer approaches or interacts with them - this is the SS, remember; an elite highly-disciplined and drilled unit in a highly-disciplined and drilled, regulation-driven military machine. Sure, if they were in the front lines dodging snipers the rules would be relaxed but this is in the rear of the rear. It's set in 1943, as far as I can tell, but the cast talk about the Russians being close enough to smell when at the end of 1943 they were still well to the east and had barely made the Polish border.
And so the mistakes roll on and on, in a travesty to the memories of the dead. Boll said it was time to reveal the "full horror" of the holocaust. Well, he didn't despite some gratuitous scenes. This is almost comic and a complete disrespecting and making light of the terror of the event. Watching this is like pulling teeth - and there's even an entirely unnecessary close-up scene involving just that.
Boll claimed this was a sensitive production. What's sensitive about on-camera scenes of toddlers being held down and shot in the back of the head? Or the gratuitously over-extended gassing scenes? Or the teeth-pulling...?
After the brief docu-drama bit we're back to the kids for some wash-up interviews. Not sure where these were filmed - the school janitor's store cupboard, perhaps? Very telling that the kids that have the best grasp of the holocaust are not the trace-my-roots-to-Atilla-the-Hun kids but the first gen' kids born to immigrant parents.
Avoid. Avoid like the plague. Do not waste your money. Unfortunately, Amazon won't let me give it zero stars. Buy Schindler's List
and The Grey Zone