Even with rudimentary knowledge of German, sophisticated collectors who have seen it all before will recognize the usual cheap tricks—shots of a well-known auction house juxtaposed with scenes of war and looting. And then there are the interviews with some of the usual suspects—Van Rijn, Muller-Karpe, Bogdanos, etc. who apparently readily agree about a link between terrorism and collecting. The underlying premise is that that collectors and dealers are funding ISIS and the only way to stop it is to suppress collecting.
Amusingly, the filmmakers' camera keeps focusing on two solitary lots of early Middle Eastern objects in a German auction—as if all the air time they receive makes up for the lack of hard evidence supporting the filmmaker's thesis. And, of course, no good propagandist will fail to mention the decade old looting of the Iraq Museum whatever its current relevance.
So what we have is more of a morality play than a true documentary. The heroes, of course, are archaeologists, the Caribinieri (who selflessly help countries like Iraq) and local cops while the villains are terrorists, looters, auction houses, and the shadowy collectors and dealers who support them.
But this tale is at best incomplete. Nowhere does anyone pause to consider whether looting is an expression of hatred for the repressive governments that have appropriated the past for their own nationalistic purposes. And what of the roles of cops and archaeologists in these repressive regimes?Doesn't their unqualified support for nationalistic laws that declare anything "old" to be state property make them partly responsible for the unfolding tragedy?
Oddly, the filmmakers appear to be operating on much firmer ground in Lebanon than in Germany. Some of the best footage depicts what Lebanese authorities have seized. Still, CPO can't help wondering if any of the icons that are shown were confiscated from Christian refugees who have escaped with their lives and a few treasured possessions from ISIS. If so, the filmmakers would be callously adding insult to real injury-- but do they really care given the point they intend to make?
For what appears to be an English-language short of the same film, see here.