Is it better to call Saul worth seeing

SON OF SAUL - film review


Published on 11.03.2016 | from Marwil


The Cannes Grand Prix followed Golden Globe - and now actually the one Oscar for the best non-English language film: 'Son of Saul'Every second is worth seeing and gripping. It is not a pleasure. On the contrary. He is revolutionary in many ways, even in his regression. He has rightly won his 43 prizes to date. But it would never occur to anyone to rave about him. Because 'Son of Saul' takes place in 1944 in Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most horrific setting in German history, and turns its audience into participants.

The 38 year old Hungarian László Nemes has succeeded with his directorial debut (!) in adding a new type to the lavish film literature on the Holocaust. The Shoah has always been about the question of whether and how one can show what cannot be shown. And what does Nemes do? He puts his hero in the middle of the Birkenau extermination camp, in the gas chambers and incinerators, and - looks away. He hides them. As the? With a simple but amazing trick that he practiced in short films for years: his camera has no depth of field, almost every scene takes place in front of a blurred background. In addition, there is a noise on the verge of intolerance. Nemes prevents a direct view of the horror. Instead, it feeds the viewer's imagination in the most monstrous way. But one after the other.

Saul is a Hungarian Jew and part of a special task force. Means: forced labor. His everyday life consists of seeing dozens of Jews intake a shower“To guide them and help them undress. When the doors to the shower rooms close, he removes all valuables from the clothes. While he is sorting them, hydrocyanic acid gas flows into the chambers. Death screams resound from the background, dying people can be heard slamming against doors. Once the crash is over, the command has to clean up: move the corpses out, stack them in elevators, throw them into the ovens. Until the next group of deaths arrives in a few minutes, the floors are scrubbed. It is hectic, everyone carries out the orders of the capos (forced laborers) and the officers, in sheer agitation, because if you don't sprint, you will be shot. The roaring and murmuring among each other and the echoing steel sounds of the killing machinery are almost unbearable. These "job“To describe it as sheer horror is an enormous understatement. Plus the certainty: After a few months at the latest, Saul will have to go to the gas chamber himself - if a miracle doesn't happen.

No miracle happens in Nemes' film. The workers seem to be planning an escape, but Saul suddenly makes a discovery that throws him off track and endangers the plan ... Whatever the story has in store (it should not be revealed here), hope never arises, everything has withered a stressful, hopeless minor matter. The pictures are to blame for that. They hardly show anything, although the greatest horror of the 20th century takes place only an arm's length away. The camera degrades what is happening to casualness, to banality. She doesn't look at what's going on. It makes it the same as the protagonists: don't look, just do it quickly - the Nazi craze for industrial killing is completed in ecstatic automatism. Saul too (terrific: Géza Röhrig) keeps horror away from itself, fades it out. Like the camera: besides the sound, it is the most disturbing constant in this film. She ceaselessly circles around Saul and knows only two perspectives - the view of him and the view that he himself has of his surroundings. Both perspectives are short-sighted, because everything that is more than half a meter away is blurred: his colleagues, the mountains of corpses, the humiliation and murder of the Wehrmacht soldiers ... The film poster shows this imagery very precisely - it runs through almost the entire film. The anxiety that the viewer gets into is many times more intense than in any horror movie. (Supported by the knowledge: everything that is going on in the background really happened!)

That wasn't enough for the young director. He shot on celluloid, which gives the pictures an additional liveliness; also in the boxy 4: 3 format, which creates an even more depressing tightness. The stroke of genius, however, is the sound design, which Nemes worked on for four months. What initially sounds like a sound error with overdriven sound sources is actually intended down to the last decibel. The whole horror of Birkenau penetrates directly into the brain via the auditory nerve. And although the 107-minute drama only needs 90 cuts (modern blockbusters have 2,000 to 3,000 cuts to create speed and tension), it has the breathlessness of a top thriller. There is no narrative Holocaust film that hits its viewers with greater force than 'Son of Saul'.

The events in the extermination camp, as portrayed by Nemes, are historically considered certain; The fact that he invented the story of Saul (and thus reinforced the thriller effect) was particularly resentful of the German criticism. Nemes wanted to show the film in the 2015 Berlinale competition - where it was rejected. “Son of Saul” also found a German distributor late, and a few weeks ago it gave a certain amount of unease at the press screening. All the reluctance astonished Nemes, after all, he admired how openly the Germans usually face their anti-Semitic history (in contrast to his native Hungary). Ultimately, it is probably the local diligence that reacts just as sensitively to fictional thriller elements in this national wound as it does to Nemes' claim to work through them with emphatic virtuosity; some accused him of showing off his technical skills.

So he had to take the detour abroad. And the A-festivals spoke one language: 'Son of Saul' is a masterpiece. Nevertheless, he cannot hope for a rush of visitors. Most viewers will not recover from this film until the next day at the earliest - a visit to the cinema must be carefully considered. In a way, it is the opposite of this SpielbergsSchindlers List': Instead of a pleasant shower of depression and a little consolation in the face of inhumanity,' Son of Saul 'pushes its audience right in front of the gas chambers and ovens in Birkenau - and leaves him there with himself and Saul.

So who should watch this movie? Anyone who likes to be impressed by the art of filmmaking. Anyone who dares to have a cinematic borderline experience. And anyone who needs to be reminded of the hell xenophobia can lead to if they stumble into a collective madness. How many acclaimed arson attacks have there been in the last few months? There was less than three years between Kristallnacht and Birkenau. Just sayin '.

Son of Saul (UNG 2015)
Director: László Nemes
Actors: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont, Sándor Zsótér, Marcin Czarnik, Jerzy Walczak, Uwe Lauer, Christian Harting
Theatrical release: March 10, 2016, Sony Pictures

Tags:Rating, Christian Harting, German, film, film review, German, Géza Röhrig, Golden Clobe, Holocaust, content, Jerzy Walczak, cinema start, cinema poster, review, László Nemes, Levente Molnár, Marcin Czarnik, Oscar, plot, Sándor Zsótér, Schindler's List, Son Of Saul, Sony Pictures, Steven Spielberg, Todd Charmont, Trailer, Urs Rechn, Uwe Lauer, VÖ, Youtube

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