TJFF: Another Planet

Over 70 years later, we’re still trying to make sense of the horrors of Auschwitz. Architects, historians, game designers, and prosecutors have started using 21st century virtual reality technology to help see history in new ways but, to paraphrase the great prophet Jeff Goldblum, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

I’m not necessarily saying that you shouldn’t. I am saying that it’s unnerving to see VR Auschwitz. We begin with a tasteful black and white recreation designed by an architect and a historian for a VR museum exhibit. They mention that the museum wanted it to be in black and white so that it doesn’t look like a comic book.

Cut to an unsettling full-colour model designed to aid in the prosecution of a Nazi war criminal. The defendant claims, as many apparently do, that he didn’t actually know what was going on at the camp and that he worked as a cook. Using this fancy new technology, forensic experts can estimate what he was likely to be able to witness from his position in the kitchen. They say that they are sure to make sure that their model doesn’t fall into the wrong  hands. What if, for example, someone were to want to make a game using their replica? Wouldn’t that be in bad taste.

Cut to an actual escape from Auschwitz virtual reality game. And this is where things get really weird.

To be fair, everyone interviewed in the film, including the video game designer, has an explanation for how their work is respectful to victims of the Holocaust and none of them are unconvincing. It’s just a little jarring. And it’s fascinating to think of technological advances can change the way we look at the past. It’s a great subject for a documentary that is sure to start some lively conversations.

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8 thoughts on “TJFF: Another Planet

  1. Jay

    That’s super interesting, especially the legal\courtroom aspect. But yeah, it’s also worrisome and strange. Nice review though – sounds like the kind of doc that leaves you with a lot to think about,

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  2. Liz A.

    If you computerize it, someone will turn it into a game. Tasteful or not, there’s always that one person who’s going to go *there* with it. Never fails.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Matt Post author

      True. Of course, the designer is complaining that people are way too quick to condemn this project of his that they’ve never even played so I guess I’ll try to keep an open mind. Never going to play it though.

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