Son Of Saul Review

Son-Of-Saul

I’ve never watched a film about the Holocaust.

Call me crazy, but the dramatic reinterpretation of one of the darkest moments in human history has never really appealed to me, nor my frivolous nature.

But Son of Saul has had such good reviews, I felt compelled to break my Holocaust cherry.

Unsurprisingly, the main character of this film goes by the name of Saul, who’s a sonderkommando at a concentration camp I assume is Auschwitz.

I understand other death camps were available.

Now, a sonderkommando is someone who’s been taken to a concentration camp, but instead of being killed is forced to ‘process’ new arrivals by his german overlords.

Until they tire of them, and they too are killed.

In other words, it’s much, much worse.

Anyway, a young boy manages to survive being ‘processed’ before a nazi doctor is called in to finish him off.

We see all this through the eyes of Saul, whose haunted face hides a secret that is reignited by the sight of this boy.

Saul can’t save this child, but he’s still prepared to risk his life – such as it is – to try and do the right thing for him in death.

I’ve always steered clear of Holocaust films because I prefer movies that provide an escape to the everyday insanity of real life.

And it’s hard to do that when a film is about the insane and inhumane nature of, well, human nature.

Son of Saul does as good a job as it can of keeping you gripped by its macabre story-line though.

Interestingly, the film isn’t really about the Holocaust; rather, this provides the backdrop against which Saul’s journey of distraction and redemption is played out.

In some ways, this makes the things we witness even more horrific, as dead bodies are piled up only to be used as props or just casually ignored.

Geza Rohig plays Saul, and his expressionless face and dead eyed stare capture the horrors of what his character has lived through. The long running, shaky-cam takes also make you feel uncomfortably close to the action.

The sheer mechanics of trying to eliminate part of the human race is impossible for me to fathom, which is another reason I try and avoid films like Son of Saul.

The systematic murder of 6 million people is just too surreal for me to comprehend, and inevitably things get pretty ugly on screen.

Of course, that’s also the very reason why Son of Saul is a film everyone should see – so that such an act of evil can never be allowed to happen again.

Jonathan Campbell

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April 2016
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