This docudrama about the post-capture, pre-trial interrogation of the prominent
Nazi Adolf Eichmann is a powerful film which builds its power in an unusual way. In the first thirty
minutes it almost seems to be using the holocaust to deliver an exploitation
film, ala Ilsa the Wicked Warden. The interrogator seems to be concentrating
unduly on Eichmann's sex life, and various flashbacks portray the Nazi's sexual
encounters with three women: his wife and two mistresses. As it turns out, those
scenes are part of the film's master strategy to establish Eichmann's
cold-hearted nature through a typically cinematic means of character development, and the
point of each scene is an important part of the big picture. This sort of
oblique approach tends to be necessary in a biography of Eichmann because there
was no extremely obvious "smoking gun" which clearly linked him to the Nazi
policy of genocide. Although history remembers him as a big wheel, he was
actually a mere lieutenant colonel, and his trial defense was
that he was only a transportation officer. As he pictured the situation, more
senior officers told him that he needed to create efficient rail lines between
various places, and that he needed to do everything necessary to get the tracks
laid, the trains constructed, and the schedules in place.
Given that there was some legal validity to that defense, the film aspired to
condemn him by showing that his disregard for life, especially Jewish life, was
part of an overall behavior pattern, and his sexual liaisons were an integral
part of that pattern.
- He abandoned his first mistress in Austria with no notice, even
though he had known in advance that he would be transferred. He was
living with the mistress on a farm which had been expropriated by the
state for his use. The car showed up for him one morning, he told the
woman he was leaving and had all the slave laborers shot (according to
this account), leaving the woman alone on the farm. She asked, "now what
will happen to all the animals?" His curt response was, "Shoot them."
- In Hungary he managed to link up with a truly twisted and
bloodthirsty baroness who became sexually excited by Eichmann's claims
to have been responsible for various mass deaths and his role in the
ethnic cleansing of several countries. They would talk about his brutal
during sexual encounters, with the aristocrat's sexual excitement
directly proportionate to the cruelty in Eichmann's boasts. I'm not sure
how accurate this portrayal could be, since those two people are the
only ones who could verify the details of their grotesque pillow talk,
but if it is true it certainly establishes Eichmann's truly demented and
Of course some people will be shocked by the sex scenes in this film, but the
combination of dramatized flashbacks, actual newsreel footage, and actual
interrogation transcripts ultimately builds an Eichmann who seemed to deserve
the hanging sentence he received. In that sense, the film is effective. Where
the film fails is in the various sub-plots which take place in Israel circa
1960-62. Avner Less, the Israeli policeman assigned to interrogate Eichmann, is
portrayed in some depth, and every time the story focuses on him it loses all
Avner plays with his children. His wife's health is failing. Who the hell cares?
The story is supposed to be about Eichmann, not Avner. Did the screenwriter
forget the name of the film? The sub-plot problem is compounded by two minor
characters who seem to have been written in just to get two internationally
recognized actors, Stephen Fry (as Avner's boss) and Franka Potente (as
Avner's wife), into the film for marketing purposes. Both roles could have been
eliminated completely without losing anything important from the film.
The structural problem in Eichmann is precisely the same as the one in
Hollywoodland, which was an excellent movie when it concentrated on George
Reeves, and a poor one when it focused on the home life of the private detective
investigating his death. Despite what seem to be exploitation elements in the
early going, Eichmann is actually quite an effective film when it focuses on
Eichmann. Unfortunately, it does not always do so.
Tereza Srbova, as the demented
baroness, is the same woman who did the sex scenes with Viggo Mortensen in
Judit Viktor has a very lush, curvy body!
The woman who played Eichmann's wife is not credited. That's not surprising
since the footage you see here is 100% of
her film time.