This week, BUFS is pleased to present Son of Saul directed by László Nemes. Starring Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár and Urs Rechn.
Son of Saul is a grim and powerful account of life and death during the holocaust. Set in the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau near the end of World War Two, Director (László Nemes), uses close-up shots to provide the audience with a first-person account of the horrors that took place during this time.
The film follows Saul (Géza Röhrig), A Hungarian Jew who has managed to survive the daily atrocities happening around him by becoming a Sonderkommando. (Sonderkommandos were prisoners who were forced by threat of death to perform gruesome manual labor tasks that assisted in keeping the crematorium functional). Saul was tasked with readying victim’s bodies for burning by collecting their possessions and gathering their clothing. During one of Saul’s shifts a boy survives the gassing meant to kill him and Saul must watch as a doctor comes to finish the job with an injection. As a form of moral redemption amongst all the evil surrounding him, Saul claims the boy as his son. Though it is never made clear throughout the film if his claim is true, he spends the remainder of the film seeking absolution for his sins by giving this boy a proper burial. Not only must he prevent the body from being burned, he also takes numerous risks trying to find a Rabbi who can perform the ceremony. Saul is aware that it is only a matter of time before his death too is a reality. This quest for a proper burial for this boy gives his life a moral purpose before it his time to go.
What is unique about Son of Saul is that the entire film was captured using a hand held camera, allowing shots to linger on Saul’s point of view without the audience having to endure gruesome images of the evil events happening around the concentration camp. Instead the film tells an exceptional story about the norm of the camps where death is routine and hope is lost. This perspective although very bleak, is a powerful achievement in the holocaust genre.
Son of Saul screens Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Landmark Theatres, Pen Centre. Visit brocku.ca/bufs for details.