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The Grey Zone (2001)

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A Nazi doctor, along with the Sonderkommando, Jews who are forced to work in the crematoria of Auschwitz against their fellow Jews, find themselves in a moral grey zone.



(based in part on "Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account") (as Dr. Miklos Nyiszli), (play) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Chandler ...
Max Rosenthal
George Zlatarev ...
Lowy (as Georgy Zlatarev)
Dimitar Ivanov ...
Old Man
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  »


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,526, 20 October 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$517,872, 22 December 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The actual plans of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and its crematoria were used to build the sets as historically accurate as possible. A ninety percent scale reproduction of Auschwitz-Birkenau's crematoria II and III (in the film, counted as I and II) was built near the village of Giten, forty-five minutes outside Sofia, Bulgaria. The result represents a fairly accurate depiction of a small part of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. See more »


The sonderkommandos mounted the uprising in a hurry. The krematorium IV Kommando rebelled after they knew they were about to be liquidated. They used only blunt weapons and self made grenades and set the krematorium 4 on fire (only one). The rebellion wasn't planned from the start. See more »


Title Card: As a part of the final solution the Nazis employed "special units", known as the Sonderkommandos, to aid in the extermination process at Third Reich death camps. These Jewish moles ushered victims into the gas chambers and processed their corpses after gassings. In exchange for their work, they received privileges unheard of by camp standards, before being exterminated themselves after four months.
Title Card: Based in part on the eyewitness account of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, the Hungarian Jew assigned by Dr. ...
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Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »


The Grey Zone Title Music
Written by Jeff Danna
Performed by Jeff Danna
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Incredible film
2 November 2002 | by See all my reviews

I've seen this film twice. The first time it was such a shocking,

horrifying spectacle I vowed to never see it again. It is absolutely

among the most graphic, violent films ever made, save slasher/horror films. I saw it again to see what was buried

underneath the gore. It was surprising. As a historical document

alone The Grey Zone is unique and impressive. Countless small

details contribute to its originality: the blue-green color of the

Zyklon B crystals, the sprinklers constantly working the lawn

beside the crematoria, the clear, pretty daylight when the trains

arrive, the intimate building-to-building geography of Birkenau --

only the film Shoah manages to make these small historical

details count so much. What's left to be said about the Holocaust?

These things. Small things. Details. The grass, the sound ovens

make, sunlight hitting brick. Shoes. Luggage.

The Grey Zone is so unique that it has been misinterpreted. There

is virtually no music, nothing to tell you how to feel. It is exactly the

opposite of melodrama. The mundane repetition of the killings

actually numbs you after awhile, and this is intentional since this is

how the main characters are affected. There is no uplifting

message, and no cliched Zionist coda like Schindler's List

suggesting that all the suffering had a destination and a design.

There are some awkward elements in the film. But these are

minor next to the clarity of purpose and originality. The Grey Zone

should not become marginalized in the canon of Holocaust art

because it refuses to be sentimental. Hopefully it will be

referenced and reviewed for a long time.

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