A company called Screenbound have asked me to regularly review for them. I was happy to oblige so here we are and there you are, reading this blog post. Hurrah! Now we are all together and sitting comfortably, here is my review of, Philippe Mora’s, 3 Days in Auschwitz.
Written and directed by Philippe Mora (Howling 2 and Mad Dog Morgan) with a musical soundtrack composed and performed, by none other than, Eric Clapton – 3 Days in Auschwitz (3DA) certainly seems to have a lot to offer.
Philippe Mora was born a year after WWII finished, thus making him a second-generation holocaust survivor. His mother escaped her fate of Auschwitz by one day, but eight of their relatives did not get off so lightly. I can’t begin to imagine having a close emotional connection to somewhere so iconic for its hideousness, to visit there and know that millions were murdered on the ground you stand. To see the ruined buildings and know that a whole chunk of your family was eradicated because of their religion and belief system.
Throughout the documentary, he repeatedly asks the camera: “How do you make a film about the holocaust?” However, it is only on reflection and after a bit of research that I am able to say that I get the gist of what Philippe was trying to achieve – it certainly wasn’t to ‘make a film about the holocaust’.
Mora does state from-the-word-go that this documentary is intended for his grandchildren, therefore 3DA can be nothing but an extremely personal and candid response for them. I like that Mora doesn’t bog us down with a brief history or a cold overview of what happened. He instead, plunges you straight into the Mora family and Philippe’s harrowing journey into a place he had previously avoided for decades.
The result is a documentary that looks more like a home video or a record of experiences on his pilgrimage to Auschwitz. Mora uses extremely long scenes to showcase his artwork and feature the bittersweet guitar of Clapton, he has chit-chats with family members and visits museums. This can leave the viewer (who doesn’t necessarily know much about Philippe’s parents or his artwork) feeling a bit left out.
Despite this, I enjoyed how the documentary was put together and at times bares a likeness to the beginning of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. While it is a negative that the documentary has no clear direction, it is also rather refreshing as most documentaries are created to make the viewer think or feel something. Something that the director wants you to think. This is enforced by narration telling you what to think and what to feel.
Mora lets us think and feel whatever we like. He expresses his views clearly, but having Clapton’s compositions as opposed to narration does give it a chilling and ultimately sad undertone.
And so, while it may not be a traditional documentary, 3 Days in Auschwitz is definitely aimed at a particular audience and it almost certainly does have a message. The message is that it’s still very raw. The wounds of what Hitler did nearly 70 years ago are still sore and the questions left unanswered are still burning holes in many minds.
Not the most compelling watch I have ever had, but an interesting and emotional journey that I wouldn’t have ordinarily embarked on, and am glad I did.
If you would like to pre-order your copy of 3 Days in Auschwitz, then click here.