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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

Show more on IMDbPro »

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

This film had it's debut screening at the 2002 Woodstock Film Festival in Woodstock NY. Director Tim Blake Nelson hosted the screening and answered questions from the audience after the film. See more »

Goofs

The movie suggests that two crematoria were destroyed during the rebellion. In reality only Krematorium 4 was damaged. 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

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Holocaust Films (2014) 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

 
Stark and Unflinching!
4 August 2005 | by KUAlum26See 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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