Three Days in Auschwitz

THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ is a very personal view about Auschwitz and the Holocaust

There have many film documentaries about Auschwitz and the Holocaust over the past few years. From the Oscar winning GENOCIDE (1982) to James Moll’s THE LAST DAYS (1998), more than 150 films have been produced about one of the deadliest genocides in history, including a new documentary feature called THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ.

Directed by Philippe Mora, THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ is a personal investigation into the matrix of Holocaust Restitution. Auschwitz is an important part of Mora’s family history but has always been a subject too terrible to contemplate until recently. As a Jew, born the year after the end of World War II, Mora is a second-generation holocaust survivor who lost eight members of his family at Auschwitz. It wasn’t until recently however, when he learnt of his father’s role in the French Resistance and how his mother had evaded certain death at Auschwitz by one day that the director felt compelled to produce a film about his family’s experience.

Mora’s five year journey started back in 2010 when he visited the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps for the first time. At least 1.1 million children, women and men were murdered by Nazis in Auschwitz-Birkenau in WWII, including seven members of the Morawski family who are related to Mora on his father’s side. This triggered two further visits by Mora to Auschwitz in 2012 and 2014, as well as visits to the Imperial War Museum in London, the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Australia.

Unlike other Auschwitz documentaries which present the facts, THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ is a very personal view of the atrocities of the concentration camp. Several of Mora’s family perished there and his mother Mirka explains how she escaped the camp a day before she should have been deported on a train by pure chance. The film mixes archive footage with interview clips from Mora’s family, as well as Mora’s own illustrations and paintings to tell his personal story.

The 55-minute documentary is described by Mora as “cinematic notes for my grandchildren” and as such, plays very much like a home video. While the director experiments with some interesting shots, juxtaposing lingering close ups of the barbed wire fences inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps with panoramic shots of visitors walking through the site, the overall pace of the piece is very slow and some of the footage is repeated throughout.

That said, there are plenty of things to like about THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ, most notably the haunting score by Eric Clapton, a personal friend of the director. Clapton’s music captures the emotion and tragedy of the events, the haunting sound of his guitar piece making the sometimes harrowing footage, incredibly difficult to watch.

Mora also explains that for him, this documentary is his personal revenge on the Nazi barbarism. The director refuses to let the past lie and is passionate about commentating the people who died during this dark time in history.

THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ isn’t an easy watch but it’s certainly an affecting piece that looks straight into the heart of evil, past and present.

3 out of 5 stars

THREE DAYS IN AUSCHWITZ is released on DVD in the UK on 9 May 2016 from Screenbound Pictures