Accountant of Auschwitz (The)
R2 - United Kingdom - Signature Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (21st March 2019).
The Film

We follow, 94-year-old former German SS officer Oskar Gröning, nicknamed “The Accountant of Auschwitz”, as he goes on trial in his home country, charged with complicity in the murder of 300,000 Jews at Auschwitz in 1944. The frail old man will make headlines around the world as takes the stand to face his former victims.

Out of the 6,500 SS guards at Auschwitz, only 49 were prosecuted in West Germany. After the war, the country wanted to forget the past and move on. Many of the lawyers and judges writing the new legal code were themselves former Nazis.

Now, 70 years later, a new generation of lawyers armed with a change in legal thinking opened-up a new wave of investigations against aging Nazi guards. Most have perished, but not Gröning, who at age 21, collected the stolen loot of prisoners as they were carted off trains at Auschwitz.

The Accountant of Auschwitz is a race against time to prosecute the last living Nazi war criminal before it’s too late. Bringing war criminals to justice asks fundamental moral question. From Nuremberg to the modern alt-right, the film constructs a stark reminder that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Video

history of such prosecutions in the years directly following World War II and how many of the judges presiding over the cases were Nazis themselves and how the (then) national consciousness was disinterested in remembering leading to many escaping justice.

It asks strong moral questions about a statute of limitations on these crimes arriving quite rightly that there should be none. Parallels are also drawn with the current worldwide rise of the right and how we must never forget lest we repeat the horrors experienced by the 12 million humans murdered in The Holocaust.

This is a pretty standard single layered standard definition transfer of a modern HD source. The image is clean and crisp but with an inherent softness typical of standard definition. That said detail is reasonable although due to the varying sources used in archive material this can vary accordingly.

Colours are generally muted and naturalistic with new material having a fairly flat appearance typical of matter of fact news reportage. Black levels are satisfactory and contrast is supportive with no blown out highlights. I did notice the odd compression artefact but that is to be expected on DVD, especially on a single layered transfer despite the brief running time. These mainly occurred in darker portions of the screen and were barely noticeable; nothing that will affect enjoyment ... if that is the word for a grim, sobering documentary such as this.

In short, a decent single layered standard definition transfer that will certainly allow those who wish to see the film presented clearly scratch that itch.

PAL / 1.78:1 / 75:10

Audio

English / German Dolby Digital 5.1
English / German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: English (forced on German dialogue)

I was very surprised to find that this had a 5.1 track. In any case there isn't a huge amount of difference between these two flavours of sound. Obviously the 5.1 has greater clarity of separation with more nuance and depth but there isn't a great deal in it. Surrounds are primarily utilised on both tracks for the score with dialogue front and centre. Ambient sounds are present but obviously not Earth shattering.

What is disappointing is that subtitles are only provided for the bits with German dialogue. Nothing for the hearing impaired and the subs are burnt in which is unnecessary. Obviously the default ought to be to play with subs only for the german dialogue and that's covered well.

Extras

Nothing which is disappointing for a subject as interesting as this. Surely some contextual or promotional material could've been sourced.

Packaging

Standard keepcase.

Overall

A basic, barebones standard definition edition of this important and involving ... and moving documentary. Picture and sound are fine for the format but obviously an HD version would be preferable with lossless sound.

The Film: A Video: B- Audio: B+ Extras: F Overall: C+

 


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