Streaming Review

The Waldheim Waltz review – grim but vital look at a disturbing Austrian moment

Though it lacks urgency, this documentary about the former Austrian president with a Nazi past feels like necessary viewing

With this grim but necessary documentary, director Ruth Beckermann reminds us just how difficult – maybe even impossible – it is for evil to truly be defeated. Following the successful 1986 Austrian presidential campaign of Kurt Waldheim, The Waldheim Waltz examines the way both the Austrian public and the wider political world chose a wilful ignorance of Waldheim’s past and its close ties to the Nazi war machine and the atrocities that emerged from it.

Waldheim was confident going in to the election, having just served for 10 years as the Secretary General of the UN. It’s a damning fact for the UN, showing a ridiculously lax vetting process; Waldheim’s military service records were found in a public archive by a journalist, confirming his presence during mass Jewish deportations and reprisals against partisans in the Balkans.

Beckermann mostly lets the story of the election play out through archival footage of interviews and press conferences from Waldheim himself, the World Jewish Congress, the Austrian public, and more. This sometimes makes for genuinely fascinating viewing – Waldheim’s furious retreats into antisemitic conspiracy theories whenever challenged leave little doubt as to his guilt – but there is a lack of urgency to the way they’re stitched together, The Waldheim Waltz moving pretty slowly for a 90-minute movie.

A common thread in modern politics is the reliance from public figures on the short memory of both the population and the media – The Waldheim Waltz shows that this is nothing new, and even something as species-definingly evil as the Holocaust can be forgotten if it proves inconvenient. With such a bleak message, there maybe should be more fire to the documentary itself, but it’s still a vital window into a tragically cynical moment of European history.

The Waldheim Waltz is now streaming on True Story.

Where to watch

More Reviews...

Elvis review – exhausting and inspired biopic is Baz Luhrmann to the max

Austin Butler and Tom Hanks star in an overwhelming and energetic reimagining of the life of a defining musical legend

Theo and the Metamorphosis review – chaotic antithesis to the arthouse market

Director Damien Odoul builds a playground for star Theo Kermel in an experimental film that is by turns sweet, surreal and disturbing

Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest review – endearing portrait of video game obsession

This Danish documentary from Mads Hedegaard owes a debt to King of Kong but thrives as an exploration of loveable outsiders

The Black Phone review – let this nonsensical horror go to voicemail

Scott Derrickson reteams with his Sinister star Ethan Hawke for an inert and mostly pointless yarn about a masked child catcher

Features

Every Jurassic Park Film, Ranked

With the final Jurassic Park movie now in theatres, we look back on the thirty year franchise to crown the king of the dinosaurs...

Cannes 2022: Triangle of Sadness Wins the Palme d’Or

Director Ruben Östlund, who already claimed the award in 2017 for The Square, has won the top prize for another outrageous satire

5 Must-Watch Features at Queer East Film Festival 2022

As the latest edition of the LGBTQ+ festival returns to London, we highlight our picks for the most essential features...

Avatar’s The Way of Water Trailer Will Actually Make You Excited About Avatar

Thirteen years after James Cameron's revolutionary blockbuster hit cinemas, we finally get a glimpse of its bigger, wetter sequel...