Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A Graphic Movie About Auschwitz, Really?

By Candice Carboo-Ofulue

As far as adaptations of real life go, Hollywood, or the motion picture in general, has pretty much scraped the bottom of the barrel. Alive, Munich, Hotel Rwanda, Blood diamond, Joan of Arc....Nothing is above cinema. It’s almost easier to list what hasn’t been done.

Some subjects, however, do seem to be beyond certain genres. I couldn’t tell you what they are, but I know they exist. And until last week, few of us could have imagined a graphically gruesome, horror flick about Auschwitz. But you tell that to Uwe Boll, known for his gory adaptations of video games, who feels it’s time to cinematize the "full horror" of Auschwitz, no matter how controversial. Well Uwe, I guess somebody had to do it, in the same way that some idiot has to pull the alarm-lever on the tube in the middle of rush-hour.

The critics, however, do not appreciate Boll's unique tribute. In fact, they are hyperventilating in outrage, accusing it of being distasteful and disturbing, with some even pledging a boycott. This is probably water off Boll’s back. In the end, it’s us, the box-office tickets, who get the final verdict. So what do we think? (Speculatively talking, since it’s scheduled for release next year). There is, apparently, a YouTube teaser, which I have to admit I'm too chicken to watch, so feel free to read this ponder with a pinch of salt.

Boll’s justification for this picture, apart from enlightening us to the excruciating horror of Auschwitz, is that we’ve been somewhat nullified by the “special story films”, such as Schindler’s List. Hmmm, sorry Uwe but I struggle to see your point; Schindler’s List was pretty good.

In my opinion, depicting every murderous tentacle in its full, graphic inhumanity is about as helpful in conveying the harrowing crimes of Auschwitz as a pumpkin. Did you watch the “Passion of Christ”? I did, or at least I tried. Yes, it captured the violence, but did it invoke any profound awareness about the plight of Christians, the persecution of religious minorities, or even the state of humanity? Err, nope. Well, at least not in my immediate circle of intellects. I did, however, hear discussions akin to: Did you watch it to the end? Wasn’t it horrible? Did you see the part when......?

Where's the benefit in simply sensationalising the violence? Here’s my question Mr Boll: How exactly do you expect to communicate the torturous agenda of Auschwitz, if people are too afraid to peer over their popcorn box, or beyond their partner’s jacket? I think you’ll find you don’t need violence to convey violence. Any wife beater will tell you that much. The nightmare of Auschwitz, and thus the Holocaust, is embedded in its inhumanity, which cannot be reduced to gas chambers. Why have a scene of gruesome experiments performed on twins capture the nuances of fear and despair of the Holocaust, when a closed door can have the same effect?

In fact, in an era where films such as Saw and The Hostel have normalised murder and brutally, I would go so far to suggest that it is an overly violent movie, which is desensitising

Uwe, I’d be more inclined to embrace your movie if you were tad more honest. Try: “I’m an uninspired Director, partial to exploiting people’s amygdales for a cheap scare, and what better material than Auschwitz, I don’t even have to invent the violence. After this, I’m considering a torturous spectacle about Nelson Mandela’s years in an apartheid prison”. Or something like that.

Of course, this is just my opinion; I’m open to other perceptions. What do you think about this latest production about Auschwitz? Are some subjects just too taboo for Hollywood, or at least some genres? Or is nothing above being interpreted (or exploited) by film, or Art?

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