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November 13, 2010 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Uwe Boll is no stranger to MetaFilter. You remember the time he said he'd retire if a million people asked him to, the time he challenged his critics to boxing matches and the halcyon days when he had only three movies in the IMDB Bottom 100 (he now has five). Now he has turned his attention to a project he feels he is uniquely qualified for: Auschwitz.

Boll argues that the Holocaust has been sentimentalized by films like Schindler's List and Life is Beautiful, so audiences today need someone to convey to them the grim reality.

"For a director like me who is known for his explicit depictions of violence, it's my duty to use precisely this talent to show people the atrocities of the Nazis."

The trailer depicts Boll in a WWII uniform standing impassively outside a gas chamber while prisoners are suffocated within. Later, viewers see the gold fillings being removed from corpses mouths and infants being sent into the ovens. NSFW, natürlich.

To show his fans he hasn't lost touch with his base, he is also making two other WWII films: Bloodrayne 3: the Third Reich, and Blubberella.
posted by ricochet biscuit (86 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Argh. Corpses' mouths. News of Uwe Boll first thing in the morning wipes out synapses. If a mod wanted to fix that, I would be grateful.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:09 AM on November 13, 2010


Just... just stop, okay? Please? No more of... of this.

Uwe, this is just not for you, son.
posted by Menthol at 7:16 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


And of course, being Uwe Boll, he then turned around and reused all the sets and props and costumes to make this...
posted by Naberius at 7:16 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, that trailer is the worst thing I have ever seen, on every level.

And then when "An Uwe Boll Film" came up, I wanted to somehow punch him through my monitor.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:17 AM on November 13, 2010


Oh, sorry ricochet biscuit. You are well ahead of me.
posted by Naberius at 7:17 AM on November 13, 2010


And then when "An Uwe Boll Film" came up, I wanted to somehow punch him through my monitor.

Not to defend the man, but his name is pronounced "oo-vay," so "an" is the appropriate article.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:20 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know what to say here. Firstly, I don't think Uwe Boll is a bad director, just an enormously, almost gleefully tacky one. His work isn't marked by incompetence, but instead an exploitative sensibility and a nails-on-chalkboard personality, coupled with a lack of any sort of restraint. He doesn't make bad films. He makes tacky films. Really, really tacky films. And he can be sloppy, in an Ed Wood style. He just shoots so fast and with such little concern for detail that he'll miss things, like supposedly dead characters getting up to leave, and then not care.

But I have a taste for exploitation filmmaking. It's like the audiences subconscious. It often doesn't make sense, and isn't deliberate, but, because it's pandering to the audience's desire for outrageousness, and because exploitation filmmakers sometimes have something to say and insinuate their messages into their films, and they are messages that wouldn't ordinarily make it into mainstream films, the work can be profoundly affecting and explore, however badly, themes and imagery that doesn't stand a chance in mainstream filmmaking.

This may well be a travesty. It's likely that Boll has decided to apply a torture porn aesthetic to one of history's darkest moments. But his critique of Schindler's List and Life is Beautiful is correct -- they are sanitized versions of The Holocaust. Life is Beautiful quite literally shuts the event out, hiding it both from the film's child character and, for the most part, from the audience. For all the deaths that happen in Schindler's List, they are shot in black and white, which distances us from them, and it tends to happen to characters with whom we have only a passing familiarity. And Spielberg takes us to Auschwitz, to the showers, and puts a large group of characters we have grown familiar with in them -- and then flinches, as the characetrs have been put into real showers, and not a gas chamber. But the gas chamber is the defining image of the Holocaust, and, if you can't show it, you're masking the horror of the event.

Although I don't know if I could bear to watch it, the film that represents the Holocaust best would necessarily be an essay in mass death, just as "Come and See" presented vivid, mortifying images of Byelorussian villagers being murdered en masse by German soldiers.

So I don't know what to think about it. I was prepared to despise it, but the trailer doesn't look like exploitation. The 30 seconds or so that Boll showed in his teaser trailer is exactly what I think the Holocaust looked like.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:23 AM on November 13, 2010 [29 favorites]


Boll argues that the Holocaust has been sentimentalized by films like Schindler's List and Life is Beautiful, so audiences today need someone to convey to them the grim reality.

I'd say that's more true of Life is Beautiful than Schindler's List, but yes, Boll certainly has a point here. A few months ago I got into a WWII kick and watched a bunch of docs about the Nazis in general and Auschwitz in particular. It's a real mindfuck to consider how it all could have happened, and why, and what it means. It's just mammothly horrific to consider the ideology that supported it, the many meetings and conferences to decide the policy, the logistics and engineering that went into creating the facility, and the human action of implementing the - in the parlance of the day - solution. Ultimately, though, I don't see the necessity of creating a straight narrative film about Auschwitz, and I don't enjoy that such a horrible filmmaker is doing it. I will give Boll kudos for trying to explode the smooth around the edges narrative that many might have of Auschwitz, or perhaps the idea is to shock people into considering what happened, but whatever the motive, he's not the man to do it and nothing he could make would recreate the true horror of what happened. Being forced to read a simple Nazi memo dictating the policy or listening to an old Sonderkommando describe shoveling dead Jewish bodies into pits is far more horrifying than anything Boll could create.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:26 AM on November 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Uwe, never thought I'd say this, but please go back to desecrating video games.

And re: Blubberella - Clint Howard, how far have you fallen?
posted by fungible at 7:27 AM on November 13, 2010


The 30 seconds or so that Boll showed in his teaser trailer is exactly what I think the Holocaust looked like.

I was thinking that too.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:31 AM on November 13, 2010


The 30 seconds or so that Boll showed in his teaser trailer is exactly what I think the Holocaust looked like.

Funny, when I think of what happened during the Holocaust I don't imagine there being a lot of shaky hand-held zoom shots and jump cuts. Which is ultimately why I don't trust Boll and I don't trust this film - in the end, his odd and brash stylistic choices will divert attention away from the true horror of what happened. Auschwitz was not a video game, and it wasn't a B-movie. That's why original source material, interviews with SS guards and survivors, and exact recreations will always be more affecting than a project like this.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:37 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have no problem with what he's going for here, it's just.. he is really bad. Even if he isn't intending to make an exploitation flick, I'm not sure he can avoid it.
posted by cj_ at 7:37 AM on November 13, 2010


Clint Howard, how far have you fallen?

He was in House of the Dead. If he's in a project not associated with his brother, it tends to be pretty wretched. It's not so much that he has fallen, it's that Ron Howard scoops him up every so often.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:38 AM on November 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Given that people bought tickets to Saw and Hostel in droves, Boll's investors should expect to make money hand over fist.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:39 AM on November 13, 2010


I hated Life is Beautiful, liked Schindler's List, and will reserve judgment on this movie until it actually exists.
posted by kyrademon at 7:44 AM on November 13, 2010


Boll argues that the Holocaust has been sentimentalized by films like Schindler's List and Life is Beautiful, so audiences today need someone to convey to them the grim reality.


The moment you recreate a moment is the moment an experience becomes subjective. Saving Private Ryan is no more realistic than The Longest Day, given that reality is in full color, has no cuts, is individualized, has an odor, etc. Making a more horrifying depiction of the Holocaust on film does not immediately correlate into a film that's truer to the historical reality. I'd argue that the opposite could be true.
posted by Omon Ra at 7:44 AM on November 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


See, the thing is, atrocities are difficult to express in any manner, realistic, sentimental or not. A film, no matter how snuff-like, is still artifice, and this is exactly why people are driven to use different artistic approaches.

It is rather simplistic to say that Nazi atrocities are brutal and telling stories from this time should use brutal storytelling techniques. It is still storytelling, no matter what sot of artifice you choose.

Boll is a terrible film-maker, and this will likely be a terrible film.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:45 AM on November 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I can't honestly say whether I've ever seen one of his movies or not (but probably not), so I can't make much of a judgement of how the Auschwitz film will be based on just the trailer - most people seem to think he's an awful filmmaker.

I liked both Schindler's List and Life Is Beautiful, but they were, in essence, romance movies. At times they conveyed what I believe to be some of the horrors of the Holocaust, but when they did so, it always seemed wrapped in some soft-focus slow-motion filter . . . filmed to appear more like a getting-hazy memory than an actual, palpable, monstrous event.

I was never in a concentration camp per se, but in a closed city without any consistency of our basic needs (heat, water, electricity, food, shelter), and with no way out. And I watched people killed in front of me by snipers and shells, including my parents. What film footage of these slaughters and their aftermath never really conveys is all the non-visual stuff, which to me (when I relive events in my mind which I witnessed firsthand) is much more haunting and painful than the pictures. The sounds, which covered a wider range than film is able to handle, from dead silence to explosive noise and back again. The tactile bits like the breeze and the grit in the air after a shelling. The dizziness and displacement of normal physical sensation. The smell of chemicals and smoke and burnt hair and flesh. The temporary damage to your hearing. The spooky way you can be in a shock-induced fog and still 'normally' perceive rescue workers talking about things normally, like you have a window to a slightly different dimension.

All of which is to say that the trailer here does a far better job of getting these sorts of things across than any other piece of film I've seen. In that sense, it's really quite brilliant and well done. But I probably still won't watch the film.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 7:46 AM on November 13, 2010 [35 favorites]


Thinking about it more: Regardless of what Boll actually produced, because of the level of violence he will certainly put into it, and because he is Uwe Boll, there is no way this film will ever be treated remotely seriously. Had he established himself as an art house filmmaker, as did Passolini before he made Salo, there might be a small subset of critics who look to this film as aserious filmmaking. But the guy who makes video game movies because of a German tax loophole, and boxes his critics, and used the same set for Blubbebrella?

No. This will be a mirror image of The Day The Clown Cried: A film about The Holocaust that shouldn't have been made by a filmmaker who shouldn't have made it.

And that alone makes me curious to see it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:54 AM on November 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


most people seem to think he's an awful filmmaker

He is widely regarded as one of the worst filmmakers of all time, and not without reason.
posted by cj_ at 7:55 AM on November 13, 2010


a rather old nuggest:

Judge the art. Not the artist.
on the basis of the trailer, this is what Guardian reported:



Some critics have already vowed to boycott the film, having seen a gruesome teaser trailer – users must prove they are 18 before watching the clip on YouTube but even for adults it makes very grim viewing.
posted by Postroad at 8:04 AM on November 13, 2010


I haven't seen Life is Beautiful, but, yeah, Schindler's List is romantic -- it's ultimately about people who survived and lived to tell the tale, not the millions who died. It humanizes the events for some people, though -- puts it into a scale that's more conceivable. These people, who went through these things. As opposed to millions of anonymous faces who died. The difference reminds me of John Varley's short story, The Manhattan Phone Book (Abridged).

For your WWII torture porn depictions of things done by the Axis, the two choices I know of are both for the Japanese unit 731, which was much smaller scale than Auschwitz: Men Behind the Sun and Philosophy of a Knife. So maybe Uwe figured the Germans were being overlooked.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:06 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I forget who it was that said Uwe Boll was Werner Herzog from the mirror universe, but yeah.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:32 AM on November 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


That Downfall clip would be awfully appropriate here.
posted by schmod at 8:47 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Uwe seems to be sincere in his desire to move from irrelevant douchebag to scorned and despised irrelevant douchebag.

Selling glorified violence perpetrated by the Nazis for profit isn't as bad as being a Nazi, but it's fucking close. It's amazing he found funding and staff to make the movie, but anything for a dollar, right?
posted by notion at 8:49 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Blubberella actually looks like it may be a good movie.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:51 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think this is awesome. He should abandon horror and devote the rest of his life to trying to make Oscar bait movies. I am 100% behind this.
posted by Artw at 8:51 AM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Judging by the trailer Uwe Boll plays a narcoleptic Auschwitz guard. Now that's an Auschwitz movie I'd see.
posted by geoff. at 8:52 AM on November 13, 2010


I would certainly have to agree with the idea that movies have sentimentalized the Holocaust. Even a short list of films beyond those already mentioned here illustrate that:

The Diary Of Anne Frank
Jacob the Liar
The Pianist
The Boy In The Striped Pajamas

And those are just the ones I come up with on my own. They're all highly romanticized portrayals of the Holocaust. But how do you make a movie about something as gigantic and horrific as the Holocaust WITHOUT finding some kind of sentimental thread to clutch? Without some kind of handle that gives the audience something to identify with, you end up just showing 10-12 million stories of people being rounded up and ultimately slaughtered.

I think the ONLY unsentimental film I've ever seen about this subject was the chillingly effective Conspiracy. A film which, while being about the Holocaust, doesn't depict concentration camps or Jews in hiding at all.
posted by hippybear at 9:06 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I met Boll when I spent a day on the set of In the Name of the King (his Dungeon Siege licensed Lord of the Rings ripoff) in Vancouver. I wrote for a certain media outlet, which only sent me because I was already in town anyway and it didn't cost them anything. I was one of three reporters that showed up for their media day. There was me, a teenage girl from some web site who was just thrilled to be asked, and this guy in like his late 60s who I eventually discovered was a friend of the publicist who hadn't actually done any media coverage for a long time, and was only there as a favor to her because she couldn't get any press to show up.

It was an extremely... odd day. It is the only time I have ever just been turned loose on a set and allowed to roam around unsupervised and taking pictures. On media junket day, most movie sets are more secure than the Pentagon. Other highlights: Ron Perlman chomping cigars and getting all right wing with the old guy (I think they eventually headed off to his trailer to drink scotch and swear at Democrats.) and John Rhys-Davies in the middle of the main "big table" interview session going totally off into this long, hugely bombastic lecture to Boll about how "you're not one of the great directors, yet. You could be, if you..." (While Leelee Sobieski and Claire Forlani rolled their eyes and had this whispered and giggled conversation among themselves.)

But anyway, I spent a lot of time with Boll, who seemed really happy to be able to talk about his work and wasn't editing himself at all. Now mind you, I was never under any illusion that he wouldn't be absolutely infuriating if you had to actually deal with him for any significant length of time. But in the context we were in, I really found him strangely likable. I think it was just that he was so enthusiastic about everything. Say what you will about his ability as a filmmaker and his total lack of tact or taste, but he's not a mean person or a cynic. He truly loves what he does, and there is (at least in the short term) a definite charisma about that.
posted by Naberius at 9:07 AM on November 13, 2010 [24 favorites]


I'm not sure that explicit violence and mass bodies really is the best way to represent the Holocaust. We are all used to seeing this on a screen and I think that it might be too easy to be emotionally detached after seeing, yet again, bodies being bulldozed into a mass grave. One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.

One very disturbing thing about the Holocaust (to me) was how boring and bureaucratic it was. There were organized train carriages, names on lists, government flunkys moving paper around, etc. etc. It wasn't a impulsive action and it didn't involve people baying for blood running through the streets, it was a carefully planned exercise. Move cabbages and beef here, coal over here, and Jews over there.

I think movies have to show this side to be effective. We all know about the elephant in the room. We all know about the gas chambers. I don't need to see the horror of them. I think it's almost more effective if I don't. Show the sad, mundane aspects of the Holocaust and keep us aware that just over there, just off screen, people are being casually murdered.

Regardless, Uwe Boll is the wrong person for this movie. Uwe Boll is the wrong person for every movie, but he's particularly wrong for this one.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:14 AM on November 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think Uwe Boll is a terrible movie director by any standards. He gets crap performances out of otherwise competent actors; he creates mises en scène that look like a high school civics pageant at best; the pacing of his movies is all off, with weird longueurs in the middle and rushed-through climaxes.

He's The Producers in real life, quite literally--the reason he has a career is entirely because of quirks in the German tax code.

That said, whatever. If he makes a movie about the Holocaust, I'm not going to go see it, because I don't really want to see a movie about the Holocaust that features crap acting, amateurish visuals, and shitty pacing. But if he can get people to fund him to make that movie, let a hundred flowers bloom.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:16 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


you guys arrange it, i'll fight Uwe.
posted by clavdivs at 9:18 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shoah, this ain't.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:22 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the teaser itself was pretty effective. It had a weird rhythm with the noise of the screams, not unlike the trailer for the Coen brothers' A Single Man use of Michael Stuhlbarg getting slammed against the chalkboard, and it also had 70's/grindhouse feel. I think that if that teaser was released by literally any other director, the reaction would be very different.

But it wasn't. It was by Uwe Boll, and so it is guaranteed to suck beyond all imagination. I've unfortunately seen much more than one Uwe Boll film, and so I am fully confident that this movie will the uttermost shit.

I would love to be proven wrong though (I mean, who wants to see a shitty and exploitive Holocaust movie made?). And hey, even the excellent film The Grey Zone had David Arquette in it, so what do you know.
posted by fryman at 9:37 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the history of bad ideas this is certainly in contention for the worst.
posted by unigolyn at 9:42 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


He is widely regarded as one of the worst filmmakers of all time, and not without reason.

I completely disagree. Yes, I'm about to defend the man: I have actually quite enjoyed some of his recent movies, in particular Tunnel Rats, Stoic, and especially Rampage, which is a very good movie that would have gotten a lot more buzz had it not been made by Boll. Hell, even Seed, which is not overall a good movie, has some impressive bravura sequences. Yes, the man has made a serious of unbelievably awful movies. But he has also made some interesting ones and some good ones: it's fascinating to watch his films, because he's getting better as he goes.

Here's the thing about Boll: Nobody, but NOBODY, is making movies like his. They are completely insane! Nobody else would make a movie like Rampage, for example. He isn't churning these movies out because he is some sort of cynic who just wants to mass-produce crap: he's a man who genuinely loves film and loves making movies -- weird ones! -- and has created what I consider to be one of the most interesting bodies of work in genre film today.

Anyhow, I get tired of people bashing the man without actually having watched his recent movies. Perhaps his holocaust movie will suck! That is completely possible. He is a highly . . . um . . . variable talent. However, there is no doubt that the man is making this film from a place of complete sincerity, and I for one am rooting for him.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 9:49 AM on November 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


*SERIES* of unbelievably . . . dammit.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 9:50 AM on November 13, 2010


There's no one appropriate way to depict any historical event - even a genocidal one. Dr. Strangelove and Threads both have legitimate things to say about nuclear weapons.

Nor does Boll need to pass some kind of test for artistic seriousness before he's allowed to bring whatever he's capable of bringing to the subject. Like the film clip, Slayer's "Angel of Death" is also powerful, sickening, and - if you like - opportunistic. But my musical life would be poorer without it.

I agree with Boll that graphic depictions of violence could be a useful corrective to tasteful exercises like Schindler's List. Even if he accomplishes nothing more than produce a sense of moral nausea in his viewers, I'd say he has depicted the Holocaust with more seriousness than Roberto Benigni.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:51 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Its Never Lurgi: "One very disturbing thing about the Holocaust (to me) was how boring and bureaucratic it was. "

I've always thought a really effective Holocaust film would essentially be a remake of Office Space played straight, until the end, where Jennifer Aniston finds out her boyfriend is colluding to steal money out of Jewish peoples' bank accounts, and all the "work" they've been doing is coordinating the deaths of millions of people.
posted by fryman at 9:59 AM on November 13, 2010 [16 favorites]


If [Clint Howard]'s in a project not associated with his brother, it tends to be pretty wretched.

Of course, Rock 'n' Roll High School is the exception that proves this rule.

As always, Uwe Boll can bite me hard.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:05 AM on November 13, 2010


I thought the teaser itself was pretty effective. It had a weird rhythm with the noise of the screams, not unlike the trailer for the Coen brothers' A Single Man use of Michael Stuhlbarg getting slammed against the chalkboard, and it also had 70's/grindhouse feel. I think that if that teaser was released by literally any other director, the reaction would be very different.

Yeah, that is what makes it so intriguing. If this same trailer, frame for frame, had arrived with the title card saying "A Michael Haneke Film" or "A Film by Lars von Trier" or any of about a dozen other European directors*, critics would be salivating.

I'd even be willing to give Boll a chance if he were doing this as a clumsy move towards seriousness. It is easy to forget that Uwe Boll has not been around forever. His first movie came out in 2002, so his entire shabby oeuvre has taken up the same span of time in which Paul Thomas Anderson and Terrence Mallick have made one movie each. A poor early career is not an insurmountable obstacle: not many people could look at The Mountain Eagle or Downhill or The Farmer's Wife and figure that Alfred Hitchcock had the makings of greatness. Even making terrible movies is not the end of the world: Boll's only real competition for most spots in the IMDB Bottom 100 is the late Bob Clark, who also managed to make both a huge box-office hit and arguably the most influential film of its genre as well as a widely-beloved holiday film.

It is the Bloodrayne 3 and Blubberella being shot with the same costumes and props and sets that rubs me the wrong way. I have not seen the movie in question, obviously, but something about it smells rotten.



*I'm afraid it would have to be European. The title card reading "A Brett Ratner Film" would produce the same reaction as Boll.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:13 AM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


You'll all be glad to know that his taste in person is as bad as it is on the screen. He doesn't think he's tacky. He knows that he's technically proficient, but he thinks that his products are very good and that most people don't understand him. He has an extremely low taste level. It's like being tone-deaf or color-blind.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:26 AM on November 13, 2010


One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic.

Yeah, and that's why so many films about the Holocaust are 'romantic', if one is to use that criticism of them. Showing a bunch of people thrown through a variety of way of be ing killed for a few hours? You'll get noting better than a bad slasher film, in all likelihood. How do you hook that into people's emotions, engage them to make them care? I can't see how parading awfulness until the audience is numb with it is particularly useful.
posted by rodgerd at 10:31 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like that we're all pretty much focusing on the fact that this is going be a Uwe Boll Joint, rather then on a the fact this this may be an incredibly gruesome and graphically violent portrayal of the Holocaust, because that at least could be a credible movie. It is true that most fictional Holocaust films shy away from the disturbing images and details of WWII, or at least make an effort to present them tastefully, because those details are truly deeply disturbing and there's a reason they can cause a visceral reaction in people more than 6 decades after they occurred.

That's probably why portrayals of atrocities are usually relegated to documentary films, because documentaries don't have to have hew to narrative thread or create likeable characters and dramatic tension, they just have to tell the truth and tell it well. The most disturbing and moving Holocaust film I've ever seen was Night and Fog (Wiki, Video), and not because it showed mounds of bodies being bulldozed into ditches (it did), or warehouses of the shoes, wallets, and even hair taken from Jews, but because the filmmakers showed all this with no attempt to explain it to the viewer, but in an attempt to understand it themselves.

So there's a place for the graphic, visceral, and inhuman details of the Holocaust, and there may even be a filmmaker who could portray those details in an honest and non-exploitative way in a fictional film, but Uwe Boll? No, just no, not now, not ever.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:32 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


So there's a place for the graphic, visceral, and inhuman details of the Holocaust, and there may even be a filmmaker who could portray those details in an honest and non-exploitative way in a fictional film, but Uwe Boll? No, just no, not now, not ever.

I have the exact opposite feeling. There have been plenty of technically proficient, tasteful movies made about the Holocaust, and frankly I think that there are fewer filmmakers around now who are better suited to make a Holocaust movie at this moment than Boll. I'm being completely serious about this. What is needed is a rough and grimy grindhouse sensibility, a take-no-prisoners, outrageously tasteless point-of-view. The Holocaust is treated with kid gloves in pretty much every Oscar-bait Holocaust film, and we need the polar opposite of that. For better or worse (and my opinion falls on "better"), you don't get much further from the slick, Oscar-ready sort of hollywood bullshit than Uwe Boll.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 11:07 AM on November 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, and that's why so many films about the Holocaust are 'romantic'

Hmmm? Holocaust and romantic in the same sentence that isn't "Holocaust and romantic should not under any circumstances EVER be used in the same sentence"? I have a problem with that, much as I despise LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL without having seen it (but I did see the trailer [Holocaust as feel-good rom-com] and I did see Asshole Benigni's Academy Award moment ["yes, as a matter of fact, the Holocaust was all about me ... winning an Oscar!"]).

Honestly, this is one of those topics where I personally feel there oughta be a law: something along the lines of entertainment and holocaust being mutually exclusive. We're just not up to it yet, as a species. We've got some serious evolving to do first.

That said, I could get behind just about any successful romantic comedy of the past twenty being remade with the Holocaust in the background. For instance: 4 WEDDINGS + A HOLOCAUST. Take the original script and redo it pretty much as-is, except set it in Nazi Germany with all the happy-go-lucky leads being members of the Nazi party, pursuing their high-jinks and prat-falls ... while various atrocities going down in the background (pogroms, synagogue burnings, folks being herded into rail cars). Maybe Uwe Boll could direct.
posted by philip-random at 11:09 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have actually quite enjoyed some of his recent movies, in particular Tunnel Rats, Stoic, and especially Rampage, which is a very good movie that would have gotten a lot more buzz had it not been made by Boll.

I haven't seen the first two, but I thought Rampage was atrocious. It's the worst Boll film I've seen, although admittedly I didn't make it all the way through. Maybe the ending redeems it or something?

What do you see in it? I'm not being snarky, I'm genuinely curious. I've heard a lot of people praising Rampage as a legitimately good Boll film, but I felt it was just as inept as anything else he's done but without the entertaining camp value. It's a pretentious version of Uwe Boll, which I found utterly unwatchable. What am I missing?
posted by brundlefly at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2010


I haven't seen the first two, but I thought Rampage was atrocious. It's the worst Boll film I've seen, although admittedly I didn't make it all the way through. Maybe the ending redeems it or something?

Well, I'd first say that House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark are unquestionably worse than Rampage. In fact, if Boll had stopped making movies after those two, his status as one of the worst filmmakers of our age would be justly deserved.

But as for Rampage, I thought that it was bracingly tasteless and obscene, as well as uncomfortable on a moral level, which is a quality I very much enjoy and rarely find in movies. You are asked not just to watch, but to sympathize, with an unlikable asshole as he randomly mows down a bunch of strangers in a series of long takes. In addition, it is, on a technical level, nicely done: the acting is good, the long takes are structured for maximal discomfort and tension, and the action scenes are effective.

Anyhow, YMMV, but I liked it because I like the cinema of discomfort.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 11:25 AM on November 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the elaboration, Frobenius Twist. Maybe I'll have to give it a second shot.

Maybe.
posted by brundlefly at 11:26 AM on November 13, 2010


Of course, Rock 'n' Roll High School yt is the exception that proves this rule.

Believe it or not, there is a Ron Howard connection there. Ron started directing for Rock and Roll High School producer Roger Corman, in exchange for starring in a film called Eat My Dust. Also in Eat My Dust: Clint Howard, in his first Corman role. Howard's directorial debut for Corman: Grand Theft Auto. Featuring: Clint.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:59 AM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmmm? Holocaust and romantic in the same sentence that isn't "Holocaust and romantic should not under any circumstances EVER be used in the same sentence"?

I think that in this case "romantic" is being used under the definition "of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality", rather than the "inclined toward or suggestive of the feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love" definition.

Just a hunch.
posted by hippybear at 12:11 PM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


With the exception of Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, of course.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:19 PM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


>What is needed is a rough and grimy grindhouse sensibility, a take-no-prisoners, outrageously tasteless point-of-view.

Yeah, and I have no problem with that, but Uwe Boll makes films that fall past the "so bad it's good" range into "just bad." Even his campy gorefest schlock is barely watchable, no matter your level (or method) of intoxication. So the fact that he apparently is taking on this project as some sort of meaningful motion picture is just... terrifying, is the word that comes to mind. The only thing I can imagine worse than Boll's cinematic take on the latest video game to feature splattered guts and heaving bustline, is a dead serious Boll's take on genocide.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:37 PM on November 13, 2010


"For a director like me who is known for his explicit depictions of violence...."

I thought he was known for his explicit depiction of a loophole in the German tax code?

And the problem with Boll isn't his exploitative tendencies, that's the best thing about him. The problem is that he never seems to give a rodent's ringpiece whether the film makes any sense at all.

If he had made just one movie that didn't look like it was edited by a rhesus monkey with darts I'd be interested. Ed Wood was an arguably much, much better director because he did so much with so little. Boll does so little with so much it's stunning.
posted by lumpenprole at 12:46 PM on November 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ed Wood was an arguably much, much better director because he did so much with so little.

Agreed. Wood was also much better in that he had an interest in cinema that was not purely mercenary in nature. Wood poured his heart into his films.
posted by brundlefly at 12:49 PM on November 13, 2010


The 30 seconds or so that Boll showed in his teaser trailer is exactly what I think the Holocaust looked like.

I was thinking that too.


Me also.
posted by jokeefe at 12:56 PM on November 13, 2010


I think that in this case "romantic" is being used under the definition "of, characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality",

In which case, I'd buy something along the lines of: "The Holocaust was perpetrated by a gang of Romantics, enthusiastically pursuing their ideal to the point of obscenity." Which yeah, is kind of what that trailer footage looks like.

strangely, I'm glad the guy doing it's a German.
posted by philip-random at 1:04 PM on November 13, 2010



I have the exact opposite feeling. There have been plenty of technically proficient, tasteful movies made about the Holocaust, and frankly I think that there are fewer filmmakers around now who are better suited to make a Holocaust movie at this moment than Boll.


Ok, but we don't NEED a holocaust movie at all, right? I mean, it isn't like we NEED one like we need a summer sci-fi blockbuster. If the only person who can make a good one right now is Uwe Boll, how about we just skip making one for a while?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:09 PM on November 13, 2010


I've improved the trailer. It's still NSFW, but I think its more true to Uwe's idiom.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:28 PM on November 13, 2010


We all know about the elephant in the room. We all know about the gas chambers. I don't need to see the horror of them. I think it's almost more effective if I don't. Show the sad, mundane aspects of the Holocaust and keep us aware that just over there, just off screen, people are being casually murdered.

I've seen at least one film that does exactly this - Conspiracy, which documents the Wannsee conference where the "final solution of the Jewish problem" was devised by a bunch of bureaucrats. It's great.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:44 PM on November 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Its Never Lurgi: One very disturbing thing about the Holocaust (to me) was how boring and bureaucratic it was.... I think movies have to show this side to be effective.

I recommend The Wannsee Conference: "A precise, real-time (exactly 85 minutes - the length of the actual event) reenactment of the infamous Wannsee Conference, a meeting called in January, 1942 to map out the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question."

It seems to have been remade in 1992, but I haven't seen that version, and don't think it could top the original, which captures the "banality of evil" perfectly.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 1:44 PM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


It seems to have been remade in 1992

And 2001, apparently. Nice simulcasting there!
posted by doubtfulpalace at 1:47 PM on November 13, 2010


I will second those who recommend the 1984 German film The Wannsee Conference (Die Wannseekonferenz). I actually showed it to my students for my course on the history of Nazism.
posted by dhens at 4:21 PM on November 13, 2010


I feel like this will be a film that will do everything it possibly can to try and make me uncomfortable and fail, utterly, because pure shocking imagery is not difficult to watch in and of itself; the only thing that can really get to incredibly the incredibly gore-and-death-desensitized population of "the worst parts of the internet" at this point is well-directed, artfully crafted footage designed meticulously to evoke emotion. A video of an autopsy is not inherently disturbing or frightening, but a well-composed and scored shot of, say, a couple arguing, can be utterly soul-destroyingly depressing. A shot of a dark empty room can be terrifying. Uwe Boll does not understand emotion.
posted by tehloki at 4:33 PM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


the point of something like schindler's list is not to try to accurately recreate the holocaust; it is to effectively reinterpret it within the context of cinematic language--which is what schindler's list does, down to its use of music and black & white. it's not as if you would expect a song about the holocaust to 'sound like' the holocaust.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 5:11 PM on November 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


The 30 seconds or so that Boll showed in his teaser trailer is exactly what I think the Holocaust looked like.

I agree with this, and will never watch this movie.
posted by lullaby at 5:43 PM on November 13, 2010


I love how ridiculously slanted most people's opinions are. I mean, come on, the moviefone article's headline...just wow. And to then have a picture of the man smiling, as if to say anyone who ever makes anything about the holocaust can never be caught smiling....


I find it funny that most people who hate Uwe Boll with a passion, have seen one, MAYBE two of his movies. And I'm sure those people reading this have already said, "That's all I need to see." etc. As a couple people have said here, the man has made a bajillion movies. A lot of them are "bad" by standard terms, but some of them are good. Some of them are quite good.

I'm just glad that despite all the haters in this thread and through out the world Uwe still manages to do what he loves to do.
posted by toekneebullard at 8:58 PM on November 13, 2010


Anyhow, I get tired of people bashing the man without actually having watched his recent movies

Fair enough; I'll fess: I have not seen any of his recent work. I watched House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, and Bloodrayne. If there is a movie he has produced that will shed a different light on the man in terms of his skill as a filmmaker, please point it out to me and I will check it out and re-evaluate my position.
posted by cj_ at 1:40 AM on November 14, 2010


Blubberella looks like one of those movies that will be so bad it will be good. But we'll see.
posted by antifuse at 6:32 AM on November 14, 2010


Huh. This was really apropos. On Monday, I'm going to be showing a bunch of students clips about the Milgram Experiments and the Stanford Prison Experiment, and so on. I'll be doing this specifically to address a question that preoccupied theorists after the trauma that was WWII: what is a monster? What is it about a person that makes them go along with evil, stand still and silent when we all know they should scream and protest and fight for the good? What part of an SS guard's personality can we point to as the reason he did something evil, the monstrous element of him?

Of course, the answer seems to be, there isn't any. The people who committed the holocaust were not monsters -- we cannot point to some character trait that they have and we don't, and say that is the monstrous, that is their failing. There is nothing about what they are that is different from what we are. The horror we have to face is: we are, or can be, monsters just as well.

That's what I find very interesting about the opening of this trailer. We're given the guard to focus on, as a human being just like us, while he does the overly-human thing of snoozing while bored on the job. He's just this guy. But he happens to be just this guy while people nearby are screaming for sympathy as they die. To the extent that he's a guard at Auschwitz, we want him to be evil, and cold, and outrightly, unquestionably different from us. But he's not. We want to see an evil smirk on his face, or some sign of intrinsic badness in him, that can explain why he's willing to stand outside that door, when we all know very well what is happening on the other side of it... But we aren't given the comfort of any sign that he is subhuman.

I found it uncomfortable -- unbearably uncomfortable -- to watch that scene, given how long we stay focused on the guard. It forces us to think about him, to examine him, not the victims on the other side of the door. It was almost a relief when the scene changed to the victims -- not that I liked it, it was just easier to process. I know how to process images of people dying in the holocaust: it is sad, and it is horrible, and it is painful, but it is also familiar. What I am not so used to processing are images of the people who committed to holocaust being human: it was strange, and it was emotionally hard.

Others have discussed the charge that other holocaust movies are romanticized, but I think there's another issue in how they all focus on particular victims. When you're a victim of such an institutionalized atrocity, the people who instigate it are foreign and distant from you. When movies put us in the point of view of the victims, we never have to consider the personality make-up of the guards, and we get to think of them as evil non-humans. They are cookie-cutter monsters, shadows in identical uniforms, that happen to have the shape of people. Even in Schindler's List, this happened, when that one commander would shoot random prisoners for fun -- we saw him as twisted and warped, in a way we figure we would never be. But, that's just not true. What we have to confront is that it's far too likely we could be so warped and twisted, and there's reason for us to examine the guards as actual people-like-us, in order to truly understand both the horror of genocide and what about human nature allows for it to occur.

So, I found this trailer interesting, and I found the viewpoint of the first scene to be valuable and worth consideration. If the movie ends up being like the trailer, it could potentially have merit, no matter Uwe Boll's own failings. But, that said, I don't think I would ever watch it. I don't think I could handle it.
posted by meese at 7:14 AM on November 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


Fair enough; I'll fess: I have not seen any of his recent work. I watched House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark, and Bloodrayne.

And, to be fair, it is completely reasonable to give up on Boll after those movies. They are unbelievably awful! I am as surprised as anyone to see that he's actually gotten a lot better at making movies, considering that House of the Dead is one of the most staggeringly, hilariously inept movies I've ever seen. In any event, I would recommend Stoic or Rampage as movies that indicate his growth as a filmmaker. They're both available to watch instantly on Netflix.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:31 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I found it uncomfortable -- unbearably uncomfortable -- to watch that scene, given how long we stay focused on the guard

Interesting fact: That guard is none other than Boll himself!
posted by Frobenius Twist at 8:28 AM on November 14, 2010


Heh, yeah. I tried to ignore it, because I can't wrap my head around whatever meta-analysis can make sense of that!
posted by meese at 9:11 AM on November 14, 2010


If this same trailer, frame for frame, had arrived with the title card saying "A Michael Haneke Film" or "A Film by Lars von Trier" or any of about a dozen other European directors*, critics would be salivating.

I haven't seen any Boll films and, before this thread, knew zero about him except for his name, but I thought the trailer was interesting and disturbing in a good way. Had I seen it free of context I would have thought it probably was Haneke, von Trier, or maybe even Oliver Hirschbiegel.

But since Boll apparently has a track record of being about as classy and thought-provoking as a Rammstein video, we'll see.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:18 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't think there can be a realistic holocaust movie without an open latrine and a month dead cow carcass in the theatre. Until then, it's all romanticism.
posted by Trochanter at 1:20 PM on November 14, 2010


Joey Micheals had me laugh and want to punch myself for doing so.

anyone mention 'Shop on main street' (Obchod na korze)

and there's reason for us to examine the guards as actual people-like-us, in order to truly understand both the horror of genocide and what about human nature allows for it to occur.

In Schindlers List' there is scene at the stamping factory and the guards come to inspect, one worker is taken out back were pistols mis-fire, what, three times. The scene looks funny, the assured guards just doing one more task, more curious as to why the weapon jammed. Next it is 'Oh look at the time' guard pistol-whips the prisoner, he goes back to work. What 'funny' is the mechanical nature of the guards and how this did not achieve the goal, killing the prisoner, the guards were taught to be impersonal in order to further de-humanize the victum. The guards perspective, IMO is the least thing i care about.
posted by clavdivs at 2:45 PM on November 14, 2010


If you really want something from the guards persepctive, and which is truely horrible, read Into That Darkness, Gitta Sereny's book based on her interviews with Franz Stangl, commandant of Treblinka.
posted by Artw at 3:01 PM on November 14, 2010


The guards perspective, IMO is the least thing i care about.

I care about it, because it's the perspective that has power. And I want to make sure I understand the psychological factors that lead someone in a position of relative power to either contribute to a genocide or not, so that, if ever I am in that position, I will be more likely to not.

This is why I brought up the Milgram Experiments. Before the experiment, a lot of people thought that normal, non-monstrous folk would never be willing to go up to lethal voltage. Turns out, many people will. Being one of the minority who won't administer a lethal voltage just to help out an experiment depends, in part, on understanding that.

Thanks for the book, Artw. It's now on my "to read next time it's okay if I stay up all night crying" list.
posted by meese at 3:05 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Her books are all amazing, and all generably based on interviews with people thought beyind the pale. For a variety of perspectives on WWII I highly recommend The German Trauma.
posted by Artw at 3:09 PM on November 14, 2010


meese: You might want to mention this piece about the Milgram obedience experiment by a participant.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:20 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"For a director like me who is known for his explicit depictions of violence, it's my duty to use precisely this talent to show people the atrocities of the Nazis."

Boll argues that the Holocaust has been sentimentalized by films like Schindler's List and Life is Beautiful, so audiences today need someone to convey to them the grim reality.


Well, that's certainly very...literal. I suppose if one were explaining the Holocaust to a robot, the violent mechanics of corpse dismemberment might be required to convey an adequate definition. But I don't see how making the Auschwitz into a slasher flick is exposing a greater truth about the Holocaust.

Is he purporting that the sentimentality of films about the Holocaust makes audiences less aware of the brutality of the atrocity? 'Cause, uh, the whole point of the sentimentality is to enhance that brutality.
posted by desuetude at 7:34 PM on November 14, 2010


Can I just say that I loved Life is Beautiful and don't really understand the hate towards it? And I haven't seen Schindler's List since I was pretty young but I recall it being masterful. And I remember both of these films being ballsy-as-hell maneuvers from people not expected to be able to pull them off. Benigni was a broad comic actor known for playing buffoons. Spielberg had made The Color Purple andEmpire of the Sun, but was absolutely a popcorn-flick guy, coming off of movies like Jurassic Park and Hook. Neither of these projects were supposed to work.

But they worked as well as they did really because both Benigni and Spielberg found ways to personalize the stories. They both found the tiny slivers of hope fighting against the sea of unbelievable evil. And they didn't need to be over-the-top violent in order to make the point of how evil it all was, because they respected their audiences enough to know that they would bring a lot of that knowledge there with them. I'm fine with violence in film, and think it's necessary a lot of the time. But is it really more effective to show a boy's body shoved into an oven and catching fire than it is to catch a fleeting glimpse of the little girl's red dress in the pile of bodies being disposed?

I guess my concern is that while I trust Boll's technical skills in making an unrelenting and horrifying depiction of Auschwitz, I don't trust that he has 1) any respect for his audience, or 2) any real perspective that can make the experience enlightening in any way.

I think the image of the guard asleep at the job outside the gas-chamber door is effective. I think it'd be more effective if we then didn't cut to inside the gas chamber, but that's a choice I can live with. Moreover, I have my doubts that Boll was trying to convey the idea that these guards were like us so much as that they were so evil that they just didn't care about the deaths going on right behind their backs. But I don't know.

Strangely, though, while writing this I realized that Boll is in much the same position that Benigni and Spielberg were in. He might have something in him that we haven't seen and this is just the project that he needs to bring it out of him.

And the weird thing is, now I think I've talked myself into seeing it.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:25 PM on November 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Frobenius Twist: Thank you, I will watch one of those to get up to date. To be fair, I watched House of the Dead voluntarily because I love horrible film. The shlockier, the better. I don't actually want Uwe to suck less than he does.

I am only questioning whether he is the right person to do a a frank film about the holocaust. I suspect he is not, even if he has improved lately. This does not fill me with outrage so much as anticipation for a train wreck. I will watch this. That's probably all he's expecting.
posted by cj_ at 4:41 AM on November 15, 2010


Obviously Uwe Boll isn't breaking new ground with Nazi exploitation and I'm not really convinced Auschwitz is a great idea for a movie (though I confess I kind of want to see it out of grim curiosity).

But I really don't think that earnest prestige pictures are the way to cope with the western world's greatest trauma of the 20th century.* I still think the best movie about WWII to come out in a long time was Inglorious Basterds, which was way less earnest and way more exploitative than, say, The Reader. It was also largely about cinema and violence and discomfort - and was skilfully made - so I don't think it really is in the same category as Uwe Boll doing Auschwitz. I don't think gruesome stylized violence can really approach "a realistic depiction" any more than high-toned melodramas like Schindler's List or Life is Beautiful - but what do we really get out of a "realistic" depiction of a well-known historical event? Not that it's really possible.

Another great film about the Holocaust is the Czech film The Long Journey, made in the late 40s. It's one of the earliest cinematic depictions of the Holocaust and was made by a former inmate of Terezin. It's kind of before a whole cinematic language of almost unspeakableness started surrounding the whole thing and just has a really different approach. The scene that sticks most with me is how the guards have the prisoners sign waivers basically signing away their rights so the whole thing had a vaguely legalistic sheen to it.

*I know lots of other really horrible and traumatic things happened in the 20th century, but the Holocaust still, I think, has a special place in the public imagination.
posted by SoftRain at 7:26 AM on November 15, 2010


In which case, I'd buy something along the lines of: "The Holocaust was perpetrated by a gang of Romantics, enthusiastically pursuing their ideal to the point of obscenity."
I name-dropped "The Architects of Doom" recently. I bring it up again because this is pretty much exactly what the creators of that documentary set out to prove.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:06 AM on November 15, 2010


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