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Orders From Above (2021) Film Review


Directed by: #VirSrinivas

Written by: #VirSrinivas


Architect of the Final Solution, Adolf Eichmann, is finally captured and brought to Israel to stand trail for his crimes. Without enough evidence to prosecute him, Police Captain Avner Less is tasked with extracting a confession from the mastermind of the Holocaust.

Orders From Above (2021) is an Australian historical biographical drama, based on real events and is set almost entirely in one sparse motel room as Avner conducts several interviews with Eichmann. The movie has currently been received with a positive reception from critics, having won fifteen accolades at Film Festivals, including: Best Black & White Film; Best Historical Film and Best Jewish Film at the Cannes World Film Festival.

Before the film opens, onscreen text appears to helpfully inform viewers who may have little knowledge on the subject, by providing context on Eichmann’s capture. Director Vir Srinivas’ choice of a black and white aesthetic certainly aids the film in its examination of a hugely significant historical event, enhancing the timeless quality of the themes discussed by the characters and addressed by Srinivas’ rich screenplay.

Orders From Above (2021) poster

The movie does orchestrate a slow, methodical pace as Eichmann is given the time to explain his upbringing and eventual involvement with the SS. Srinivas employs fascinating direction by largely focusing on Avner’s neutral reaction to these stories early in the film and Eichmann often kept out of focus, with his voice constantly anchoring viewers into the narrative.

This film does not shy away from the true horrors of the Holocaust and handles its heavy, sensitive subject matter with sincerity. One of the most disturbing scenes which many viewers may find too upsetting to watch comes later on, where Avner makes Eichmann watch graphic documentary footage of the mass burials that took place at the extermination camps. The production team must be admired and respected for their clear honest intentions in bringing this story to life and emotionally engaging viewers, as well as educating them on an important part of human history.

The dialogue heavy approach does work in favour of creating a more intimate involvement with the two leads, but its execution is also problematic as it relies on spectators being able to remain engaged for an hour and a half about a heavy, sensitive topic which may be too affecting for many. Srinivas does counter balance this by examining the interesting moral debate on whether Eichmann should be executed without a fair trail and how this treatment of a fellow human being mirrors the barbarity of the Nazis.

Although it is slightly distracting to feature two leads who do not have German accents, both give excellent performances. Peter Donnelly plays Eichmann with great charisma, coming across as a self-assured, confident individual who always defends his actions by repeatedly claiming he was simply following orders. Richard Cotter as Captain Avner embodies a silent strength as he acts the opposite of his interviewee, refusing to blindly follow orders and not commit a man to execution without presenting the proper evidence.

Orders From Above is an informative, moving portrait of one of the darkest periods in human history. The film does hinder itself with its dialogue heavy approach, but sound direction and performances levitate this dark, historical biopic.


Orders From Above (2021) trailer:


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