An intrepid reporter over at Vice made contact with Uwe Boll -- first through Facebook and then over the phone -- to discuss his movie. Boll, who has engaged in boxing matches with his critics, had a lot to say. Like, a lot. And it wasn't just his detractors he's furious at, but also Germany as a nation and its attitude towards portraying the Holocaust, according to him.
Boll is not known for pulling punches verbally either, and the reporter barely had a chance to get a word in edgewise during his rants, which include choice bits about his educational background ("WHAT THE F*CK! Why do I get counted as an idiot, I'm a Doctor of Literature! I studied economy!") and much more.
Boll's anger isn't just directed towards his critics, though, but towards his homeland, Germany.
Boll ranted, "If you make a Sophie Scholl movie or an Anne Frank movie, you get subsidies, you get into the Berlin Film Festival because everybody's happy that you're showing that there were Germans in the resistance. But that is bullsh*t! The reality is that everybody went with it... If you make a movie now you only get support if you show Germany in a positive light... The real hate I'll get will come from Germany, because I don't show any Germans in the movie who have any doubt, who think they shouldn't be doing this. You see how it was. I wanted to show a totally normal day in Auschwitz, which was completely unemotional, like a butcher basically, who has no bad feelings about cows or pigs getting killed. This makes it scary, but that's the point of the movie, to show what humans can do."
Although I'm fairly confident that's not why films are accepted into the Berlin Film Festival, what's more interesting is that he claims that he talked to people who didn't know about Auschwitz at all. There are plenty of Holocaust deniers around the world, but you've got to know about the Holocaust to even deny it. Boll claims, "In German schools, I interviewed people who had no f*cking clue what Auschwitz was! In German schools! So you can imagine in other countries it's already forgotten."
Not so fast, Uwe. Learning about the Holocaust is mandatory in German schools, and a friend who grew up in Germany went to a concentration camp on a school field trip. (Me, I went to the Alamo.) If anything, several generations of German school children were taught by people who had serious guilt about the war and, some say, passed it on to their students.
As one German schoolteacher told the New York Times, "Teachers with good will used to make German children feel it was somehow their fault, that they had a weight on their shoulders. The war was still a fresh wound."
Since that part of his argument is so incredibly untrue, it undermines any other claims he makes. For instance, he says, "We talked to Holocaust survivors, and we talked to [Israeli Holocaust memorial center] Yad Vashem to get stock footage for the documentary material. They know that it's good to make sure that nobody forgets what happened. So even if it's disturbing and shocking, it's better that it exists than it doesn't exist. So I think they will hopefully step up and support the movie when it's done."
Yad Vashem is a respected institution, and I have contacted them by email for a comment. Since it's Rosh Hashanah, I don't expect to hear back until Monday at the earliest. This article will be updated once I hear back.
I also contacted Oscilloscope Laboratories, the distributor of Yael Hersonski's devastating documentary 'A Film Unfinished.' As you might recall, AFU was given an R rating by the MPAA due to "disturbing images of Holocaust atrocities including graphic nudity." (Oscilloscope is distributing the film as unrated.) Oscilloscope founder Adam Yauch famously and rightfully called the ruling "bullsh*t." Unfortunately, he was unavailable for comment.
If the movie is a serious work about the Holocaust, they should have probably cut a trailer that doesn't reek of Nazisploitation. First he says, "The trailer is shocking, but I wanted to show what the purpose of the movie is." Later he adds, "It is a little misleading, but it was important for me to make a point with the trailer. This is the strategy of the movie, there are no heroes, it's not one person's story, it's really like a documentary."
So, the point of this poorly made trailer is to show the horrible violence of the Holocaust in an exploitative manner when it's really, like, a documentary to be taken seriously? To steal S.T. VanAirsdale's line, "Say whaaaa?" These are all things that happened, without a doubt, but it looks more like 'Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS' than Shoah.
Perhaps the fact that Boll is an obnoxious person, a bad director, and a national embarrassment has more to do with "people [who] are flipping out in Germany" about his film than the fact that it's about the Holocaust. Even if his best friend is Jewish.
(By the way, I own my own boxing gloves. Just sayin'.)