I think I had a first last night. In the past films have made me feel happy, they have made me feel sad, some have entertained me and some really bad ones have left me bored. Never before though has a film made me feel uncomfortable. Sure there have been times when I felt uncomfortable because of who I have been watching a film with, going on a first date with someone to see The Book Of Revolutions sure did that, but last night watching The Conference was the first time that the film itself has made me feel uncomfortable.

Before watching The Conference I had a feeling this was going to be a difficult watch, see the film itself is almost line-for-line what happened at the Wannsee Conference on January 20th, 1942. This was technically a breakfast meeting where the leading Nazi personnel including Reinhard Heydrich (Philipp Hochmair – Tomcat) and Adolf Eichmann (Johannes Allmayer – Colonia) met and outlined their plans to murder eleven million Jews.

Director Matti Geschonneck (Das Ende einer Necht) and screenwriters Magnus Vattrodt (Years Of Love) and Paul Mommertz (Achtung Zoll!) make this a very clinical film and it because of that the film has such a powerful but is also an uncomfortable watch.

In my mind the evil plan that became known as The Final Solution was dreamed up by evil men in a back room hidden from society to watch a film like The Conference and learn that it was created in a meeting in a beautiful chalet while men ate cake and drank cognac is almost incomprehensible. To the filmmaker’s credit they have recreated history, almost too well, because it is scenes where these men talk about killing eleven million people like it is an everyday occurrence and how it will make hard work for so many of them that will stay with me for a long time to come.

You may ask why I didn’t simply turn off the film if it made me so uncomfortable. But to be honest it was like driving past a car crash – you don’t want to take a look but something dark down inside you can’t help but take a glance to see what is happening. Once I had started on the journey with this film I just had to know how the final edicts of The Final Solution would be delivered to these men. Curiosity had me asking whether or not any of the men depicted who had seemed to have a little bit of empathy at the start of the film would speak up against this evil plan… even though I knew if they did it would surely lead to an execution scene.

It was as I watched The Conference that I realised that this film has a strange power to it. It is mostly dialogue driven and is entirely set in and around the Wannsee chalet yet somehow Geschonneck has made this movie to be as powerful as Schindler’s List. The film itself almost feels like a piece of theatre, the dialogue that is delivered is at times powerful and brutal yet the actors delivering it say it matter-of-factly or with an almost deadpan expression. To the credit of the filmmakers that is exactly how these conversations that would ultimately change the world forever would have been delivered. After all this was just another morning meeting for these Nazis – it was nothing to special to them and the filmmakers behind this film need to be congratulated for realising that and delivering the film in the way that they did rather than grandstanding any of the events that it is contained within it.

The Conference is a hard yet rewarding watch. Honestly I felt that this film deserves more credit than it deserves, especially when it comes to award season. It takes a lot of skill from a director to be able to deliver a film like this in a way where it can emotionally affect its audience. I would say that no matter what this film does for you – whether it educates, disgusts or intrigues it will be doing exactly what the filmmaker wanted it to do.