Son Of Saul

Son Of Saul movie poster

Son Of Saul poster

Son of Saul’s opening shot is fixed and blurry. A character walks into the frame, gets closer and becomes focused. From there, the camera will follow him with a long sequence shot. Laszlo Nemes’s first film establishes its marks right away, with rigorous direction, realism and pertinence.

The Hungarian filmmaker used an almost documentary-like approach to tackle his difficult, traumatic subject, Auschwitz. Through the eyes of his central character, he describes the horror of gas chambers or rather suggests it without showing it.

Saul is part of Sonderkommandos, which were Jewish prisoners used by the SS for labor. They would not only clean but also collect personal belongings and accompany victims to the “showers”. Just like in Stendhal’s novel The Red and the Black, we only get to see what the character sees. The horror is depicted out of focus, in the background or through a soundtrack that mixes voices and noises. Through his eyes, we experience the camp’s daily life, which functions like a death manufactory. We watch small intrigues unfolding, witness solidarity and tensions but also follow the preparation of unrest.

As for the title, it refers to Saul’s obsession for his son whom he thinks recognizing among the dead bodies. He will spend most of the film trying to find a rabbi to recite the kaddish and bury his child properly. And even when the rebellion breaks out, adding to violence to this already nightmarish setting, he will stick to his obsession.

The depth of field suddenly changes as they try to escape through the forest, the frame extending to allow us to breathe and hope. This is one of the rare moments where Mr. Nemes misses the mark, moving into Andrei Tarkosky’s territory through the use of symbolism – it is somewhat disappointing, because it just wasn’t needed, the film’s strength residing in its visual claustrophobia. But, apart from this questionable ending, Son of Saul proves to be a strong, bright debut.

Director: Laszlo Nemes – Actors: Levente Molnar, Sándor Zsótér – Running Time: 1:47 – Year: 2015 – Country: Hungary
Click here to watch the Son of Saul trailer
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Moland Fengkov

Moland Fengkov

Based in Paris, Moland is a journalist and photographer; He is more particularly responsible for covering the Cannes film festival for Plume Noire, writing movie reviews and taking gorgeous pictures.
Moland Fengkov

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