Son Of Saul (2015)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

Original title:  Saul Fia

Hungary, 2015.  Laokoon Filmgroup, Hungarian National Film Fund, Sam Spiegel International Lab.  Screenplay by Laszlo Nemes, .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Prisoners at Auschwitz were sometimes pulled out of the sea of doomed victims and made to work as Sonderkommando, forced to assist in the disposal of the belongings of the people who were murdered in mass showers and then, after the deed was done, to dispose of their bodies. Laszlo Nemes’ startling film debut keeps the camera close up on one such man who spends days and nights at this dark task knowing that he too will eventually number among the victims.  Saul navigates the harsh commanders of his prison while at the same time developing relationships with other inmates like himself who barter and trade with each other; when one particular death captures his attention and provides him his first link to the human world he used to be part of, Saul risks life and limb to navigate the camp’s factory-like process to find a rabbi to perform kaddish.  Decades of seeing the Holocaust dramatized and documented is somehow ill preparation for the experience of this masterful work, the opening sequence alone a stupendous shock to the senses.  The noise is what dominates this film, a cacophony of voices and machinery as technology is used for the most evil purpose and creates a mood that is always unsettling and terrifying.  Shot on film in the era of full digital conversion, it has a palatable texture that is accentuated by superbly achieved long takes and stunning performances for an all around masterpiece.

Academy Award:  Best Foreign Language Film

Cannes Film Festival Award:  Grand Jury Prize

Golden Globe Award:  Best Foreign Language Film

Toronto International Film Festival:  2015

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