Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Uwe Boll and the Holocaust

A fracas has grown up around Uwe Boll‘s decision to make a movie concerning the Holocaust. It’s a tricky one this. On first hearing the news, one has some sympathy for the director. After all, many respectable film-makers have tackled …

Sat, Nov 13, 2010, 17:39

   

A fracas has grown up around Uwe Boll‘s decision to make a movie concerning the Holocaust. It’s a tricky one this. On first hearing the news, one has some sympathy for the director. After all, many respectable film-makers have tackled this subject and — whether tastefully gruesome in the manner of Schindler’s List or disgustingly sentimental in the manner of Life is Beautiful —  their films have, despite the odd grumble, managed to avoid being run out of town. The initial impression is that Boll is being pilloried for the twin crimes of being not very good and of hitherto working within a low-brow genre. (Being German probably doesn’t help either). We should, perhaps, give him a chance. No?

A glance at the trailer for the baldly titled Auschwitz does, however, suggest that Mr Boll is treating the material in a somewhat sensationalist fashion. (You’d better find it yourself.) The initial image of a Nazi guard (played by Boll himself) ignoring desperate hammering from detainees within a train carriage is actually very powerful. Sadly, subsequent shots of the pulling of teeth and the immolation of bodies do look extremely dubious. Herr Boll, remember, gained his notoriety by making unnecessarily awful movie adaptations of video games such as House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark. It is only a trailer, of course. We’ve learnt not to draw too many conclusions from such promos. But one does feel inclined to approach the picture with some caution.

On a less serious note, the story does highlight the enormous tediousness of the Uwe Boll anti-cult. Out there on the internet, Herr Boll has become an exemplar (or whatever that word’s antonym is) of terrible, terrible film-making. When attempting to end an online conversation, idiots routinely spout drivel such as “hey y dont u go back to watching uwe boll films thats what u like.” Even bigger idiots boast about enduring Uwe Boll marathons. The furore reached its zenith when, in 2006, Boll challenged his critics to a boxing match. Footage of the fights appeared on the DVD of Boll’s film Postal.

The truth is, of course, that Uwe Boll is no worse than a hundred other modestly talented directors. Indeed, I’ve seen at least three Sydney Pollack films that I’d be less happy to rewatch than, say, Boll’s In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. After all, you didn’t get to see Jason Statham waving a big sword in Random Hearts. Boll’s extreme notoriety is evidence of the sheep-like mentality that infects so much of the on-line community. For goodness sake, find your own “worst director of all time”. There are plenty of candidates.

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