SON OF SAUL
Director: László Nemes; Hungary, 2015
Reviewed by Kiomars Vejdani
The first shot of the film establishes its theme and style: a long take fixed on the close-up of the protagonist with stages of extermination gas chamber proceeding in the blurred background. The film is from the point of view of Saul, a Sonderkommando (a prisoner in concentration camp, carrying out the unpleasant task of helping Nazis with their extermination). In a succession of long takes all the horrifying aspects of life in concentration camp is shown with Saul nearly always at the centre of the frame. We share his experience as he carries on with his task, from seeing prisoners are undressed and moved into the gas chamber and afterwards collecting their clothes and possessions. Director László Nemes has created a nightmarish atmosphere covering every aspect of atrocities committed by the Nazis. We watch prisoners murdered (either sent to gas chamber or shot dead) and being poured into a common grave. We hear their screams and even feel the smell of rotten bodies (by seeing Saul covering his mouth with a piece of cloth).The only sign of humanity in this infernal setting is Saul's determination to give a descent burial to a young boy who briefly survived the gas chamber. Holocaust has never been watched more closely. A well deserved winner of Grand Prix at Cannes Film Festival.