18 July 2024
Older people heading to Auschwitz in The Commandant's Shadow

Film Review – The Commandant’s Shadow (2024)

The Commandant’s Shadow is a film you have to see. As good as it is, it shows us the way one man, Rudolph Hoss, looked at his fellow creatures, which is both very shocking and highly revealing. It is a film that provokes a lot of thought, and it is extremely depressing. That is not to say there is no humor; it shows how horrendous the time was. It was a revelation to see the inner workings of a family who, except for the father, were unaware of the situation they were in. It was a terrible time for humanity, possibly the worst ever, and it shows how it was dealt with. Have we learned anything? I fear not because, despite our efforts, we are still chasing shadows. Just when we think we have turned the corner, we find ourselves in the same place. It is, without doubt, a film that examines what drove this man to recreate hell on earth.

The Holocaust has always been a subject you dare to tread lightly on, but as you watch films about it, you discover new things. It is probably the most modern example of a nation turning and following something that became the worst living nightmare. Sadly, today, with all its upheavals, we are creating a new chapter. This film illustrates that cruelty has not left us; it is still there, but people repent, and hopefully, their salvation will provide the chance to never forget. It also serves as a reminder to pass on to future generations how ruthless we are and were.

What the film did for me was show how the son of a man who was there, but never saw the goings-on, eventually realized that both he and his father were guilty by association. It also portrays a woman who lived through the hellish experience, dealt with it, and passed on her hard-earned wisdom to her daughter. This wisdom can only come from experience. This film should be shown to audiences of all creeds because, without this shining beacon, we will most likely lose our way.

It is beautifully filmed and elegant in its structure, and the archival footage is very chilling. The production team has created an excellent project. I will see this film again (I have seen it twice already) because I had different thoughts each time I watched it. That, to me, is really important, as the message needs to be spread. So, if you have seen The Zone of Interest (which is a work of fiction), this film shows the devastation of events that never should have happened. It is not an easy watch, but see it to understand how far we have progressed, which is sadly not nearly enough.


Documentary | Germany, 2024 | 12A | 12th July 2024 (UK) | Warner Bros. Pictures | Dir. Daniela Volker |

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