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 filmmakers insisted on getting the film premiere in competition at a major festival. After failing to get the Berlin competition, although they could have premiered it in a different section, they decided to skip the festival and go for Cannes instead - which resulted in large success. See more »
[All goofs for this title are spoilers.]
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Horrifying, Unbearable, Unique and Wholly Phenomenal.
Few movies have affected me on such a deep and emotional level like Son of Saul. I walked into the theater having no idea what the subject matter was, or read any reviews, so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I witnessed was one of the most difficult and trying pieces about the Holocaust, and a bond between father and son during the most horrific circumstances.
By now, many of you have read about the unique style and focus of the film. Shot in 35mm, each shot does not fill the screen. There is only one focal point throughout the film, which means people and objects that are close to the camera are in focus, and everything in the background remains out of focus (except for a few shots where we do not center on Saul). This unique and somewhat unprofessional style is an absolute benefit to the overall story that unfolds before the audience. I was sometimes glad that you couldn't see some of the horrors that were happening all around the main character, but you can tell very plainly what's happening.
The story is actually a short one, it takes place in only about a day and a half, but the content of this story is what makes it stand out so brilliantly. Most films about the genocide of the Jewish race during the holocaust have a very broad perspective, showing multiple events to various people who were living through one of the worst horrors man has ever inflicted upon man. Usually these films, like "Schindler's List" focus on some savior and the survivors of such events, or even worse movies like "Heart's War" which fictionalizes a history that is almost insulting to watch. Son of Saul is a much more personal and heart-wrenching story of one prisoner who works under a Sonderkommando labour groups within the walls of Auschwitz Birkenau. There is a definition of such groups at the beginning of the film, and it tells very plainly what their duties were, under threat of death.
It is very difficult, or rather naught and impossible, to comprehend the level of horror prisoners had to live through during the extermination of their own race, but that is where this film is most successful. It achieved something that I very rarely experience during a film. This is when I cease to remember that I am at the cinema watching a movie unfold before me, and for quite some time, believe that I am right there, bearing witness to these events. That is the true goal of cinema I believe. To have the viewer in complete empathy with what is happening to the characters as the movie progresses. And I was completely and utterly entranced.
This film is not for the faint of heart. It is horrifying and unbearable at times, but is absolutely unique and utterly phenomenal to watch. A fantastic first for both director László Nemes and lead Géza Röhrig.
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