Monday, 9 June 2008

Holocaust parte seconda: i ricordi, i deliri, la vendetta

The opening titles, consisting of slow drums and white noise playing over real photographs of Nazi rallies and the death camps and their victims, lead you to expect something grim and harrowing.

The film is not a sequel, though there was an Italian TV movie called Holocaust that it was likely retitled to cash in on

The reality

The reconstruction; note the absence of yellow stars

What ensues, however, is a frankly boring piece of Nazisploitation that it is not only difficult to take seriously but which also fails to provide the usual concentration of camp, sleaze and bad taste.

Given the subject matter, that of a group of Nazi hunters tracking down their quarry in 1970s Italy, it might at a pinch be construed as an attempt to convey Hannah Arendt's “banality of evil”. Certainly at one point a Nazi does indicate that he was “only obeying orders.” Even so it hardly makes for entertaining or engaging viewing on the level of, say, SS Experiment Camp or The Beast in Heat – here bracketing any consideration of how distasteful most would undoubtedly find it for anyone to admit to enjoying these films – and completely fails to stimulate deeper thought, other than of the sort one must engage in here in an attempt to make sense of the film for a review.

Part of the trouble is that nothing within the film can really match up to the horror of those initial images – images not seen in most of the other, less self-consciously serious entries – while the flashback sequences fail to convince even by the standards of low-budget war movie reconstructions.

The greater issue, however, is that the way in which the Nazi hunters are presented makes them perilously close to being as bad as their quarry, as they strive to make each revenge attack different from the last and thereby difficult for the authorities to connect together, while also taking a rather broad view of who counts as a legitimate target.

Thus, the son of one Nazi is deemed an acceptable substitute because his father is in hiding, while the wife or daughter of William Berger's ex-officer is stripped naked, has ropes tied around her limbs and is spreadeagled before having her neck broken. (Berger fans should note that, while top billed, he is only on screen for a couple of minutes right at the start.)

An acceptable revenge image

Getting somewhat dubious

One of the curiosities of the film, albeit one which it has in common with a number of other Italian Nazi / Holocaustsploitation entries is that, despite the Holocaust 2 title, it skirts around actually identifying the non-Nazi characters as Jewish. Instead, they are presented as undefined enemies of the regime, although when some of the flashbacks show children rather than adults it is difficult to square this with these selfsame enemies being anything other than ethnically / religiously defined.

Not recommended, except for the completist.


herman said...

Good point about the badges. There were of course an entire series of badges to denote things such as political prisoners, disabled, gypsies, Poles etc. Many of the badges were in fact red (as in the screengrab). None it seems were diamond shaped though there were a few composites that denoted where people fell into more than one of the catagories- eg being Jewish and gay.

None afaik were diamond shaped however.

What can we understand from this? Since the badges are neither composite nor a particularly identifiable group then it could either be interpreted as the filmmaker not wanting to offend one group of people by marking them out or possibly that they attempted to signify that this was a reference to all (and not one particular classification of prisoner). Because I guess for filmmaker they would be caught between a rock and hard place here to mark out one group to the exclusion of others would be problematic.

I have been taking a quick look around the net to see if there were any Italian specific badges that referred to deportees from Italy, found nothing yet but if I turn something up I will let you know.

The classification system is explained on the wiki here-

The most likely, or at least my suspicon on this is, is that the filmmakers rather than looking for some composite tried to hide behind the vagueness as for example the third world WIP flicks would be set in an identified third world republic.

I will take your advice and leave this one to the completists btw as I could handle Red Nights Of The Gestapo which touched on the decadance of Nazism without scoring exploitation points off the holocaust. Its not that I am afraid of being offended, after all there are plenty of Italian filone that offend in so many different ways, but it is a genre that has never appealed to me personally.

As always though, thought provoking stuff.

Wow Gold said...

Good post!