Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie

Hotel Terminus

I don’t know if he realized…when he first put on his SS uniform…

First, right off the bat; Hotel Terminus is 4 1/2 hours long. That’s a long time, especially for a documentary that barely goes anywhere at any one point. Still, as a documentary, it must be held up to different standards than a film otherwise would be, and as for Hotel Terminus, it does its job very well, entertainment be damned if it must.

What’s most interesting about documentaries, from a critical standpoint, is how they piece together the snippets of interviews, and where and how the whole thing flows together and the decisions made as to what to place where, and what to omit. In this regard, Hotel Terminus is very interesting as a documentary. For four hours of material, it was very interesting and fun to wonder and try to decipher why each segment was edited together the way it was and for what end. As for the material itself, it is quite fascinating to see how one man affected so many people, in so many different ways; how so many people both admired and loathed him, for who he was and who he would become. However, through it all I kept wondering if the man was truly worthy of a four-and-a-half hour documentary; it seemed like the film would not have suffered much if some of the material were to be cut.

I’ll go a little more in-depth with this one: this is a 6 elevated to a 7 by how well it does what a documentary should do well. For entertainment purposes, this will almost certainly not be a good choice for the average moviegoer. Documentary fans and historians, however, will find some merit here. Whether it’s worth the excruciatingly long running time is up to them, though.

Arbitrary Rating: 7/10


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