Saturday, April 30, 2016

son of saul

I went along to the Watershed yesterday to see Laszlo Nemes’ acclaimed film “Son of Saul” (winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and Golden Globe) – an unforgettable Holocaust drama set in the Aushwitz II-Birkenau death camp in 1944 (I still struggle to realise that the holocaust happened just FIVE years before I was born).
Saul (brilliantly played by Géza Röhrig), is a Jewish prisoner who has been made part of the Sonderkommando, inmates given tiny, temporary privileges in return for policing their own extermination. They have to deal with the day-to-day business of herding bewildered prisoners out of the trains and up to the very doors of the gas chambers… and then removing the bodies. The film pulls no punches. It actually STARTS with a gas chamber scene.
It was shot entirely on 35mm film, and for most of it, the focus is on Saul’s agonised face, in tight close-up almost throughout - with the surrounding and background details often left blurred or indistinctly glimpsed.
In the gas chamber, Saul discovers the body of a boy, whom he believes to be his son, and he sets out to find a rabbi among the prisoners to give him a proper burial.
At times, I found it difficult to understand precisely what was going on… but, ultimately, this didn’t matter.
It’s a completely uncompromising and remarkable film. Unrelenting and courageous.
It’s not an easy film to watch, but one that I highly recommend that you do.

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