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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.

Director:

Tim Blake Nelson

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Arquette ... Hoffman
Velizar Binev ... Moll
David Chandler David Chandler ... Max Rosenthal
Michael Stuhlbarg ... Cohen
George Zlatarev George Zlatarev ... Lowy (as Georgy Zlatarev)
Dimitar Ivanov Dimitar Ivanov ... Old Man
Daniel Benzali ... Simon Schlermer
Allan Corduner ... Dr. Miklos Nyiszli
Steve Buscemi ... 'Hesch' Abramowics
Harvey Keitel ... SS-Oberscharführer Erich Mußfeldt
Henry Stram Henry Stram ... SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Mengele
Kamelia Grigorova Kamelia Grigorova ... Girl
Lisa Benavides-Nelson Lisa Benavides-Nelson ... Anja (as Lisa Benavides)
Shirly Brener ... Inmate
Mira Sorvino ... Dina
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The Story You Haven't Seen

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Lions Gate Entertainment

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

30 November 2001 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

A szürke zóna See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The actual plans of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp and its crematoria were used to build the sets as historically accurate as possible. A 90 % 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, 45 minutes outside Sofia, Bulgaria. The result represents a fairly accurate depiction of a small part of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. See more »

Goofs

According to all available witness reports and historical accounts, there never was an incident like the one presented in the scene, where a Sonderkommando prisoner beats a Jewish victim to get his watch. This is not based on historical facts, but a dramatic invention. Historian and Sonderkommando expert Dr. Gideon Greif criticized in a lecture from 2016 especially this scene among the many mistakes he found in the film. Greif argues, that there is no logic to it, because the Sonderkommando members simply had to wait until after the execution to find as many watches and valuables as they wanted, because they had to take care of the clothes and leftovers anyway. It would have been irrational and even dangerous to use force on the victims before the execution, because it might have resulted in serious punishment or even death through the observing SS soldiers. See more »

Quotes

Hoffman: I used to think so much of myself... What I'd make of my life. We can't know what we're capable of, any of us. How can you know what you'd do to stay alive, until you're really asked? I know this now. For most of us, the answer... is anything. It's so easy to forget who we were before... who we'll never be again. There was this old man, he pushed the carts, and on our first day, when we had to burn our own convey, his wife was brought up on the elevator. Then his daughter... and then both his ...
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Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Alto Rhapsody, Opus 53
(1869)
Composed by Johannes Brahms
Marjana Lipovsek, contralto
Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Claudio Abbado
Courtesy of Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Very very sad. Good for educational value, so so for entertainment.
11 November 2002 | by Nocgirl72See all my reviews

I love WWII movies and am a fan of many that were made about the Holocaust. I saw this one a few nights ago it is playing right now only very limited release.

Good cast with Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, Steve Buscemi and an impressive performance for a change by David Arquette. Arquette chose a very serious role-a Jewish prisoner at a Nazi concentration camp and played it off well.

This is based on a true story about a group of Jewish concentration camp inmates at Auschwitz that plan on smuggling in dynamite to blow up one of the crematoriums. Their plan gets discovered by the SS and killings and torture run rampant to try and get them to confess and give details of their plans.

A teenage girl happens to survive one of the gassings and the camp inmates become obsessed with saving her, even though it could be at the expense of many lives.

There were some people that saw this movie because they couldn't get in to see "Frida". Some people had no idea what this movie was about before they saw it. Some people asked me before it started and I told them and they still chose to stay. If you are a history buff and like Holocaust movies and want to see a true story told through the eyes of the writers, you might like this movie but be prepared to see endless killings working around a decent script that could have been better written. However if you can appreciate the fact that the makers are trying to educate people on the Holocaust and bring to light just how cruel and horrible Hitler's Third Reich was, the movie is sad, depressing, but does have some educational value. Not every single Jew willingly accepted what was going to happen to them, a few tried to rebel and that's why this story was told.

Not very easy on the eyes, bring the Kleenex and watch with shock as one of history's most horrible atrocities is brought to the screen.

7/10.


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