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The Grey Zone (2001)

R  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  30 November 2001 (Spain)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 8,128 users   Metascore: 58/100
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A Nazi doctor, along with the Sonderkomando, Jews who are forced to work in the crematoria of Auschwitz against their fellow Jews, find themselves in a moral grey zone.



(book) (as Dr. Miklos Nyiszli) , (play), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Chandler ...
Max Rosenthal
George Zlatarev ...
Lowy (as Georgy Zlatarev)
Dimitar Ivanov ...
Old Man
Simon Schlermer
'Hesch' Abramowics
Henry Stram ...
Kamelia Grigorova ...
Anja (as Lisa Benavides)


The true story of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a Hungarian Jew chosen by Josef Mengele to be the head pathologist at Auschwitz. Nyiszli was one of Auschwitz's Sonderkommandos - Special Squads of Jewish prisoners placed by the Nazis in the excruciating moral dilemma of helping to exterminate fellow Jews in exchange for a few more months of life. Together, the Sonderkommandos struggled to organize the only armed revolt that would ever take place at Auschwitz. As the rebellion is about to commence, a group from the unit discovers a 14-year-old girl who has miraculously survived a gassing. A catalyst for their desperate attempt at personal redemption, the men become obsessed with saving this one child, even if doing so endangers the uprising which could save thousands. To what terrible lengths are we willing to go to save our own lives, and what in turn would we sacrifice to save the lives of others? Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Story You Haven't Seen


Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong holocaust violence, nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

30 November 2001 (Spain)  »

Also Known As:

A szürke zóna  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$24,526 (USA) (18 October 2002)


$507,443 (USA) (13 December 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jeff Danna is the credited composer, but there is no score in the actual film. He only wrote music for the title and end credit sequences. He also arranged a classical piece used as source music. See more »


In the first set of end credits listing the stars, Brían F. O'Byrne's last name is spelled "O'Bryne"; it is spelled correctly in the second set, listing the entire cast. See more »


SS-Oberscharfuhrer Eric Muhsfeldt: I never fully despised the Jews until I experienced how easily they could be persuaded to do the work here. To do it so well. And to their own people! They'll be dead by week's end, every soul. And we'll replace them with others no different. Do you know how easy that will be?
See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


Roses from the South, Opus 388
Composed by Johann Strauß (as Johann Strauss)
Orchestrated and arranged by Jeff Danna and Andrew Lockington
Performed and conducted by members of the Bulgarian Symphony Orchestra
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Stark and Unflinching!
4 August 2005 | by (Topeka,Kansas,USA) – See all my reviews

Tim Blake Nelson takes his stage play--an adaptation of a book by Miklos Nyiszki--to the big screen,and what a story it is!

An unthinkable,unconscionable deal has been worked out between a certain group of Nazi death camp inmates and their captors: in order to avoid the ovens(in all likelihood,only temporarily),these inmates would use their talents(among them,musical) to placate and ease along the funneling of other Jews and "undesirables" into the death chambers. A strong cast and an even stronger screenplay/script is augmented by very intelligent cinematography. Particularly good turns by David Arquette,Steve Buscemi,Daniel Benzali and Mira Sorvino as the inmates,all desperate,all convinced of what they have to do to survive and in Arquette's character's case,not even certain if it is even worth it.

It would be tempting to slam "Schindler's List" after seeing this,but I won't. SL is meant as an epic,a tribute,a story of the upside of surviving through the most dense of human tragedy,whereas GZ is a decidedly darker exploration of what happens to people in the same situation but are pushed into much less noble,much more selfish and desperate devices. Both are strong examples of the genre,but where GZ triumphs is that that it explores the most damning actions through the consciences of people faced with decisions that nobody should have to make. It is an unflinching portrait of a dark chapter in human history,rife with detail and completely lacking of lecturing. THis film is for anyone who wants to see an unvarnished and stark portrayal of the human condition brought to its lowest denominator. A must-see for college classrooms and Holocaust museums anywhere!

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