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
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 »
TIFF 2015 -- Son of Saul: Expect a little more than an education
Easily tagged as a Holocaust film (but shouldn't necessarily be), 'Son of Saul' explores the perspective of a Sonderkommando named Saul — a German Nazi death camp prisoner who's job was to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims — who finds a dying boy from the chambers and attempts to give him a proper burial who he claims to be his son, all during his time at Auschwitz. The film is uniquely shot from an over-the-shoulder perspective that keeps the viewer entirely focused on Saul, but still with the motions and actions surrounding him very noticeable (thanks to absolutely brilliant sound work in order to help achieve the eerie feel). 'Saul' reaches certain pinnacles of significant discomfort during scenes of execution — in the gas chambers and the burial pits — and a stone-faced Saul can do nothing but be forced to listen or watch.
At points, the viewer feels claustrophobic when being ushered from the trucks in the middle of the night to one's fate. While the main story of Saul's attempt to give his "son" a proper Jewish burial is what drives him — already accepting his own fate — the film goes beyond the typical WWII Holocaust story where you might only hear of incidents. In this film, the viewer is thrust upon into the fray of Hell, constantly following Saul through several one-shot takes that leave you wondering what is waiting for him.
A word to the wise: this film prides itself on authenticity, realism, and truth; 'Son of Saul' is painfully poetic.
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