Two days in the life of Saul Auslander, Hungarian prisoner working as a member of the Sonderkommando at one of the Auschwitz Crematoriums who, to bury the corpse of a boy he takes for his son, tries to carry out his impossible deed: salvage the body and find a rabbi to bury it. While the Sonderkommando is to be liquidated at any moment, Saul turns away of the living and their plans of rebellion to save the remains of a son he never took care of when he was still alive.Written by
Claude Lanzmann, the acclaimed director of Shoah (1985) and other documentaries about the Holocaust, praised the film. Speaking to The New York Times, he said, "It's a film that gives a very real sense of what it was like to be in the Sonderkommando. It's not at all melodramatic. It's done with a very great modesty." See more »
The short text at the beginning says, that the members of the 'Sonderkommando' were killed after 3 months, but this is a simplification of the more complicated history. While it's correct that these men were supposed to be killed and replaced after a few months, in some cases they were killed much earlier and in other rare cases they could survive for over 2 years, like Filip Müller. This depended mostly on the skills of the individual 'Sonderkommando' slave worker, who was sometimes needed by the SS to train the new 'Sonderkommando' members, but also on pure coincidence and luck. See more »
Written by William Marshall Hutchison
Performed by Elizabeth Spencer See more »
The room is filled to the brim with happy, healthy people aged 20 to 80, who just stocked up on American drinks and candy of all sorts and eagerly await the start of the movie. After some commercials and a trailer, the lights dim and the last conversations between these movie-goers come to a halt. Silence ensues.
FESTIVAL DE CANNES / GRAND PRIX, the screen states. The film begins. A seemingly never-ending scene is shown in which we follow the stoic face of a man who walks among hundreds of others, gently prodding them to move along, walk faster, go on. Everyone present in the cinema immediately knows what's going on. Silence continues.
The people undress. They are herded into the 'shower' rooms. The doors are shut. The Jews who are forced to help the Nazis murder these people are asked to throw their full bodyweight against the doors, so nobody can escape. Screams, endless screams, envelop the theater. High-pitched children's screams, men's despairing yells, women's cries and sobs. After what seems to be an eternity, the screen cuts to black and the movie title is displayed. The screams fall silent.
Filmed in a World War 2-like 4X3 aspect ratio, we continue to follow the protagonist literally head-on for an hour and a half. The 21st- century audience knows the stories, the names of the camps, has read books and seen dozens of movies about the Holocaust. But never like this. Screams alternate with silence, gunshots juxtapose stillness, life rubs in death. And through all of it, the audience is silent.
Some gasp and put their hands in front of their mouths, others have the same dead stare the protagonist shows throughout the movie. Most everyone has trouble breathing as the movie grabs them by the throat and does not let go. Silence screams from the throats of every movie- goer present.
As the credits roll, nobody talks, but everyone is in a hurry to leave the theater. Everyone wants to escape the living hell they've just experienced for an hour and a half. And everyone is more keenly aware than ever that for 15 million people a mere three generations ago, escape was not an option. The audience was never this silent during any of the hundreds of movies I saw on the silver screen. No coughs, no crunching on chips, no unscrewing of bottles, no talk. Merely silence.
As the audience shuffles out of the door, they all realize that silence is all that remains: silence screaming from the theater itself, screaming silence from the screen. They know that no matter how many books, history lessons or movies are made about the subject, it's a silence that still should be screamed, yelled and cried into the world for generations to come.
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