Saturday, 12 March 2016
Son of Saul
The Hungarian film 'Son of Saul' won this year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
It is a very grim film set over a period of about thirty-six hours within the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. A 'Sonderkommando' (Prisoners forced to work in the crematoria of the camps before themselves being killed) tries desperately to find a Rabbi to attend to the funeral rites of a young gas chamber victim.
It is filmed in a most unusual style. The screen ratio is the old style 'Academy aspect' which makes it look at times like a home movie and also narrows substantially the viewers' field of vision. The camera focusses mostly on extreme close ups of the main character. Most of the rest of the vision is out of focus so that the viewer concentrates entirely on the main character and is spared a direct view of many of the horrors of the holocaust. Most of the shocking events are portrayed obliquely at the edges of the screen and through the soundtrack of events occurring off screen and are no less horrendous for that.
There are two main plot lines neither of which are revealed by direct narrative but which the viewer is left to slowly discover as the events unfold.
Unlike the fantasy horror of '10 Cloverfield Lane', this is real horror.