Monday, February 15, 2016

Son of Saul

A Hungarian Jew Saul (Geza Rohrig) labors in a Sonderkommando unit in Auschwitz, a work detail which cleans and disposes the remnants of the gas chamber, and which also knows they will be employed only a short time before meeting the same fate. One day, following a gassing, a child lays gasping for air (only the second case known according to the doctor) and Saul soon realizes that it is his illegitimate son whom he now must so desperately procure a ritual burial. Shot in extreme closeup (wahhh!---ok bad joke) for more or less the entire movie with background images staying mostly out of focus, Laszlo Nemes' Son of Saul is a disorienting, brutal, and unrelenting film that wants to create a 'you are there' experience of the Holocaust which begs the question: why now do we need first person films of the Holocaust? This isn't a knock at the filmmaking, acting, or cinematography, all of which truly are first rate, and the film seems to be made out of genuine ire, but after so many films (not to mention works in other mediums), I think it goes beyond "lest we never forget" or "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it" to those who can not come to terms with the past and forgive are doomed never to heal.
*** out of ****