Freddie Deighton reviews harrowing, but empty Holocaust drama The Auschwitz Report which would have made for a better documentary
The Auschwitz Report is a Slovakian film that follows the story of Alfred and Valer, two Jewish Slovaks who are held in Auschwitz. The film shows the true story of the two men finding all the evidence they can of the horrors of the camp to reveal the truth when they finally get out. Once they get out they search high and low to find someone with the authority to send bombs to destroy the infamous death camp.
What’s immediately obvious about The Auschwitz Report is how visually striking it is. The first shot of the film is a slow pan up to Alfred being hung by the neck on the gates of the camp with a sign slung around him. The sky behind him is a crisp white and everything in the foreground is very dark. It’s a fantastic shot and is a great and engrossing way to introduce the film.
There are loads of other examples of excellent cinematography and directing at work here too. Most of the Nazis you see are shot in shadows and you barely ever see their faces. They’re just uniforms. There’s also great use of Dutch angles, upside down frames and some interesting point of view shots throughout The Auschwitz Report. The film has clearly had a lot of care and passion put into it as it’s one of the most visually intriguing films about the Holocaust out there. It’s certainly close to Son Of Saul.
Sadly, however, what The Auschwitz Report supplies in visual prowess, it lacks in story. The first half of the plot basically has the two main characters lying under some wood for an excruciatingly long time. This is all while the other inmates suffer as the guards search frantically around the camp searching for the two escapees. This part of the story isn’t very exciting as it’s very static; our main characters are lying for ages while the other inmates stand for ages. It’s also confusing because you don’t really get a sense of what Alfred and Valer’s plan is.
The second half isn’t much better as there’s a lot of Alfred and Valer just walking through forest. Unfortunately, you could probably forgive this quite empty plot if you were allowed to get to know the protagonists a bit more. But you just don’t get any idea of who Alfred and Valer are. Valer’s face you only see for the first time properly once they’ve left Auschwitz because he’s in darkness for most of the beginning. Alfred (or Freddy) has a little bit of an introduction, but this only really serves to tell you what his job was before and how horrible Auschwitz is. When anything happens to these two men you don’t really get much emotion out of it because you haven’t been given much to connect with them, other than obviously how much they’ve suffered.
The Auschwitz Report is a well shot, directed and acted film. Wistfully though, the story is rather empty and would probably have been better served as a documentary.
Signature Entertainment presents The Auschwitz Escape on Digital Platforms & DVD 24th May