Son of Saul (2015) Review

In my 3 days at Cannes Film Festival this was the only film i was able to see that was in the competition. A lot of buzz was around this film, as the director had struck lucky in not having to build his way into Cannes but has earned a place straight into the competition. Directed by Laszlo Nemes, a Hungarian film that offers a new unique perspective of the holocaust. The plot:

In the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, a prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people finds moral survival upon trying to salvage from the flames the body of a boy he takes for his son.

A hard hitting film to watch, i found this quite gripping and a non stop dream/nightmare. The film is very continuous and takes place over two days and you as the audience feel it. It gives a new feeling to the Holocaust narrative. The director is able to transport us into this time and horror, to experience how they would have experienced it, i believe this is helped by the following and close up shots of our protagonist. The film is very clever in it’s out of focus moments of the most horrific violence of the holocaust, giving us only blurry glimpses, something i think reflects todays understandings. We can read about it but we were never there, we only have a half formed image, blurry even but never in focus. Alternatively this filmmaking device could have been used to show our characters detachment from events around him, something you would believe he would need to do to carry out his job, making his all the more tragic hero of sorts (a controversial one).

This film will certainly divide its audiences, however this is what i feel makes a good film, very strong reactions. Myself and my peers all had something to say on the film and the ending, which is so powerful but also up for many interpretations. I am so glad to have watched this film and been reminded of a part of the past that was to me but a blurry, out of focus image.


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