The son of Saul: a different kind of Holocaust movie

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The movie by László Nemes, is released in French cinemas today. The winner of by the grand Prize Jury in Cannes has also been selected for the Academy Awards in the category “Best foreign language movie” for this year.

The movie starts on October 1944, with the story of Saul Ausländer, a Hungarian jew prisoner in Auschwitz. The main character is interpreted by the Hungarian teacher and poet Geza Röhrig. Saul is part of the Sonderkommandos of one of the crematory oven, a group of workers who are separated from the other prisoners and are forced to participate in the cremation. They also have to spread the ashes of the massive extermination victims.

One day, Saul recognizes the body of his dead son and tries to avoid his cremation, in order for him to have a proper ceremony. Meanwhile, the Sonderkommando starts to rebel itself and wants to destroy the crematorium. With his only goal which is to save his son’s soul, Saul drifts away from the group.

The Holocaust is a very recurring theme in cinema. But this movie is different. First of all, the shooting is different from the other movies. Lazlo Nemes decided to film his main character with a tight close-up. But the most important thing is: the viewer sees the movie from Saul’s point of view. With this way of shooting, one can’t really see what is going on within the camp but one can imagine it. In fact, the viewer sees the reality through Saul’s mind: he doesn’t really pay attention to the camp’s life, he only thinks about his son.

Things are clear: the movie is not really about the Holocaust, it is more on the life in the Sonderkommandos. Like in every movie of this kind, there is no happy ending. Here there is just one thing: a man’s hope to help his deceased son, even after his death.


Aurore Rousset, IEJ3F, Group 2


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