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2.7 out of 5 stars77
2.7 out of 5 stars
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on 4 August 2011
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 instead.
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on 25 July 2011
Not only is this film highly inaccurate, its really badly acted, badly scripted and put together. Its something and really rubbish amateur film student would do.

I have watched nearly everything regarding this subject and I can confirm this is the worst, most stupidest film I've ever seen.
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on 25 March 2014
This is a strange film, it's not really documentary [it teaches you nothing] and it's not really a film [no narrative, no characterisation] to me it is a short film with archive footage and interviews included. I studied the Holocaust for my MA so i'll just break down the sections and give my opinion -

1. The interviews are before and after the film, German college students being asked about their knowledge about the holocaust, Judaism and touching on Israel / Palestine. There are some who know very little and some who know more. Was was most telling for me was when the film maker asked the youngsters what their grandparents did / thought about Auschwitz and the Holocaust. The problem with this part was no explanation, the viewer is expected to make their own minds up about whether the things the young people say are true or misconceptions, whether they actually care about the Holocaust or not.

2. The actual film itself is pretty short and does not show a day in the life of Auschwitz as some others said, it purely focuses on 1 aspect of Auschwitz, the journey from cattle car to gas chamber. The message of this chunk of the film is that dying through suffocation by Zyklon B is painful and long. What I think most people were bothered by with this film is that it purely focused on death, yes Auschwitz Birkenau was a factory of death of course, but life went on for those prisoners who were granted their lives whether it be days, weeks or months. It did not show any of the other aspects of life at Auschwitz Birkenau, the barracks, the work duties,the brutalities of every day, the roll calls, the conversations, the struggles, the starvation, etc. It was just about nameless people being led to their death. [I should mention here that there are historical inaccuracies with this whole portion but its a film, not a documentary like i said]. For me it moved the viewer away at a distance, we were almost as distant as the Nazis were, we did not know these peoples names, history, background, we just watched them be taken to their deaths, like you might see in an abattoir. And ultimately this is how Auschwitz Birkenau operated so in that respect Boll's film hit the mark. The disintegration and isolation between viewer and victims could really be felt in this film, and it makes viewers uneasy which is why people perhaps did not like it.

3. Thirdly there was archive footage of Nazi Germany, Hitler and of the liberation of camps including Dachau and Ohrdruf [from what I can remember], not Auschwitz Birkenau per se. This is given no historical context it's just kind of stuck into the film and it becomes rather voyeuristic. We see mountains of dead, emaciated bodies which were found as the camps were liberated, just as another reminder as how horrific the death at a concentration camp / death camp was.

All in all, this is not a terrible film, it's not a particularly good film, it's just a film which tells you that at a Nazi death camp, life is short and death is long and painful. You learn nothing about the experience of working, living or existing at a Nazi death camp [for example the Sonderkommando or other inmates], nothing is framed in years, it doesn't explain how Auschwitz Birkenau differs between when it was first built and then 1944 when the Hungarian transport had Birkenau running at full capacity. We don't know when this film takes place. I wouldn't say it's offensive or insensitive, Boll wanted to show what it was like, but he only really shows what death by Zyklon B is like, there wasn't enough of the terror, the violence or panic in the short journey the people took from the train to the gas chamber. If you want something more substantial about life in a concentration camp then I would recommend a Hungarian film called Fateless. If your curious voyeuristic side wants to see death and real dead bodies, then watch this film.
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on 22 May 2015
I think this is an extraordinary film that sticks in the head and I can't understand the bad reviews. It is a very strange, unconventional film. There is a section where German teens are quizzed on what they understand about Auschwitz. Some are stunningly uninformed. Others know so much. Its disturbing the gulf in their knowledge. Some have literally no idea of what happened, some seem utterly unmoved. Its as if the whole thing happened in a different time , to different people even though they have grandparents, great-grandparents. I have seen a lot of documentaries and films about the Holocaust. I found the dramatisation in this wholly new, revelatory . It utterly brought home the mundane, business side of the camp. For the officers it was just a job. They are not monsters, just people doing a job. Doing the same thing, every day. Their routine you can feel has been smoothed over time. There is real horror for example when you see them shoot babies... The detail makes you really feel the full horror, the crying babies faces so close, so alive, so real. What you see, the killers saw. Held. And yet still found the ability to kill.
The tired, exhausted terrified people being shepherded in to their deaths after harrowing, arduous journeys. After months and maybe years of growing doubt and fear and uncertainty. Is this really the end? You feel for some a kind of resignation.
There is a chilling lack of drama, just another day, just another mass of people to be processed by jaded guards and nervous inmates. The slowness, stillness gives it reality. You get to take in the tiny details, the child being undressed by his father who is sure to put his little boots safely together, for afterwards. Its heartbreaking stuff but its unsentimentally done. More it is a depiction of the mundane nature of something repeated day after day, over so long. One guard asks for leave to go home in time for his first child's birth. And you see incredibly, these people who murder all day , who sift through the loot of their victims, they are actually still people. They can shoot a baby and still long to get home in time to meet a baby.
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on 25 July 2011
Well I was expecting a war film. This was more like a badly put together documentary with poor acting, factually incorrect, infact a bit of an insult to the memory of those who died there. I can only agree with most of the other reviews and i certainly would not advise you to waste your money on this "film".
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on 4 August 2013
Like other reviews, this film is one which was withdrawn from sale by many UK retailers for its sick adaptation and pitiful attempt to portray one of mans most tragic events. It is not even historically accurate.

AVOID it and save your money.
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on 31 October 2015
I've seen a lot of Uwe Boll movies and I don't know why I do it to myself. Perhaps I have some kind of masochistic need to see how bad he can get.
Obviously, it's utter garbage, as expected.
Other reviewers have covered it well enough but I have to comment on the 'interviews' with the kids.
I honestly can't believe he did more than kidnap some teenagers from the local reform school before interrogating them in what looks like a public toilet? As in many countries, youth have a schmogesbord of knowledge about history but I wonder where he found the one who thought the Second World War took place at roughly the same time as the Restoration after the English civil war. Even Boll seems to have issues with numbers, 'Stalin killed 5 million'? Really Uwe?
As for the film, it looks like it's been filmed on a delapidated industrial unit.", the acting is poor, dialogue dull and the music is just a constant low rumble with a few spooky piano chords thrown in.
Watch something else. Watch anything else.
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on 16 July 2011
This DVD was recommended to me via amazon because i had purchased similar products before. I am one of a small number of people on planet Earth who had never heard of Uwe Boll. Alas, i have heard of him now. Thanks alot amazon. The film looks like it was made at a 1950's English National Service Barrack and contains none of the haunting image of Auschwitz Death Camp. The german children interviewed at the start and the end of the film must have come from the stupidist area of german education in order to add controversy to the topic. Avoid this dvd at all cost. I have since watching this dvd disposed of it in the rubbish bin. To donate it to a charity shop for resale would have been insulting to the particular charity.
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on 28 August 2011
I have to confess I didn't really know who Uwe Boll was before watching this film. Having seen it though I can't say I'm surprised to learn that over 350,000 people signed an online petition (which he instigated) to get him to retire.

The aim of Boll's "Auschwitz" appears to have been an attempt to realise what Kubrick once said about the Holocaust in film: that the definitive film would be the one which showed the bureaucracy of the deathcamps, the day-to-day banality within which such great horrors occured. Boll attempts to do this in the second part of the film, which is a "day in the life" of the Birkenau camp. Prior to this he interviews a group of teenage students, in what seems to be an attempt to shock the audience at the paucity of their knowledge.

Boll's a little off the mark here, not least because the target group are an easy one to belittle. It's easy to feel irritated by the girl who sits, playing with her facial piercing, offering nothing in response to his questions except monosyllabic confusion. Likewise the student who guesses that the Holocaust occured in either the 1600s or the 1960s. It would have been more effective to interview a broader range of age groups - there are plenty of people far older than these students who have just as poor a historical knowledge; or at the very least to have targetted the education system that allows youth to go into adulthood with no knowledge of arguably the most important historical event in our recent history. But instead Boll chooses the lazy option, which is tantamount to shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

The main section of the film, the "day in the life" account, follows the arrival of a transport to the gas chambers. Although Boll chooses not to give any of the characters a name, and places emphasis on the passive, industrial nature of the extermination process, he does so without managing to convey any real idea of the fear and distress the victims may have been feeling. When he tries to do this, the effect is poorly judged and lurid - such as the repeated, slow motion shots of the SS officer shooting the child in the head.

I have no doubt Boll was genuine in his motives in making the film, but the truth is that this film adds nothing to the considerable volume of Holocaust cinema already in existance. A far better account of life in Auschwitz can be found in Tim Blake Nelson's "The Grey Zone", which documents the last few days in the life of the twelfth Sonderkommando. It manages to shine a light on the corruption, bureaucracy and horror of Auschwitz and the extermination process in a way that Boll doesn't even come near.
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on 5 October 2013
Although the interviews with German teenage schoolchildren give an insight into how people in general in modern day Germany seem to be ignorant in what happened at the death camps, the dramatised sections of this are quite unbelievable. For instance, the people taken to the gas chambers look healthy and well fed, absolutely nothing like the poor starved, I'll treated ones that actually met their deaths there.
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