When we think of Holocaust movies, they are rarely light and sunny, for a good reason,
The Grey Zone hit theaters in 2001. It told the story of the Sonderkommandos (along with other prisoners) who led a revolt against their captors in Auschwitz. In an effort to stay alive a little longer, they have led their fellow Jews to their deaths. The moral quandary comes when the men discover that a young girl has survived the gas chambers. They do everything in their power to keep her alive and out of view of the Nazis. Starring Mira Sorvino, David Arquette, Steve Buscemi, and Natasha Lyonne, it is a story of fighting for your life and your people in a world in which death is just a hairsbreadth behind you.
This movie is powerful, heartbreaking, and a ride that is a reminder of how inhumane we can be to our fellow human beings. The filmmakers do not shy away from how violent and brutal “life” in the concentration camp was. In doing so, they speak for both the victims and survivors, whose numbers are dwindling fast.
The only thing that throws me off is that many of the actors speak in their own accents instead of the voices that would have been natural for the characters they are playing.
The death camp has been the subject of many films over the years.
While the mother of all Holocaust films is Schindler’s List (1993), another film has come out recently. While the subject of both films are the same, they are completely different.
The recent release Son Of Saul (2015), focuses on Saul Auslander (Geza Rohrig). Saul is a Sonderkommando. In the death camps, they were responsible for disposing of the bodies of the victims and preparing the belongings that the victims brought with them for dispersion. Among the bodies of the recently killed is the son that Saul never acknowledged during the boy’s brief lifetime. He becomes obsessed with one goal: finding a Rabbi and burying the boy properly. But as Saul looks for a Rabbi, the Nazis look to destroy the Sonderkommando’s who are secretly planning a rebellion.
While other Holocaust films have not been shy to reveal the horror that is the Holocaust, this film is different. Devoid of music and shot with film with mainly closeup shots of the main character, this film is disturbing. Not that a Holocaust film should be light and funny, but this film is a stark reminder of how dark the world can be and how easy it can be to mistreat our fellow human being based simply on external factors.
I absolutely recommend this film. If you see one film over the next few weekends, see Son Of Saul. It will be a worthwhile viewing.
I'm a retiree in his seventies. That may not be significant to many, since there is a bunch of us Baby Boomers around. However, in the year 2,000, when I received a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma, I expected to be dead in three to five years.