A harrowing, visceral vision of the Holocaust from Hungarian writer/director Lazlo Nemes. There have been many films about the Holocaust over the years that have left an emotional mark on the viewer but never quite like this.
Saul Auslander is a SonderKommando, a Jewish prisoner of war in a unnamed concentration camp forced to work for the Nazis. He leads other prisoners to the gas chambers, hauls out their dead bodies, shovels their ashes and other brutal chores, just to stay alive.
The film opens with Saul out of focus walking into the frame. Making the creative and brilliant choice to put the camera inches away from Saul for the entire film, we are no longer watching but instead, we are immersed in the film itself. There is little dialog, no soundtrack and with this first person point of view, we experience the horrors around Saul for ourselves. This is not an easy film to watch but that's the point.
The story takes place roughly over 24 hours. The plot is simple. Saul finds a dead boy that he perceives to be his son, and he tries to find a rabbi to give the boy a proper burial. Geza Rohrig plays Saul in a powerful performance where his every thought and emotion is conveyed by the sadness in his eyes.
Recently nominated for Best Foreign film, "Son of Saul" may be too much to bear for some but brace yourself, it's worth it. It is an experience that will haunt you for a long time. Mr. Nemes has found a new and ingenious way to make sure we never forget.