I doubt you’ve ever wondered what it must have been like to be a Jew working in the Sonderkommando in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp helping to collect the valuables and clean up the mess of mass genocide. However, Son of Saul is an incredible depiction of the Holocaust from within the eye of the storm. Through interesting close-up direction, long takes, multiple languages and intense dynamics the film portrays the World War II in an original way. The film very deliberately tells the story via Saul Ausländer – easily making the viewer see the situation from his specific point of view by almost never ceasing to film him.
The film literally grounds the viewer by following Saul and his fellow prisoners who repeatedly scrub the floors of the gas chambers as well as retrieve the valuables from the clothing left behind. The colours are dull, grey, dark and unclean. Every so often and abruptly a Nazi guard appears and Saul must stop immediately and take off his hat – an effective way of showing how tense the camp is and how much respect the Nazis demanded. Although we’re all well aware of the story the film is set in, the plot doesn’t begin until Saul believes to see his son. A boy survives the gas ‘treatment’ only to be killed by the Jewish medical staff of the camp without appropriate religious rituals. Much to the the disdain of Saul, he takes it upon himself to ensure his ‘son’ receives the proper send off. Saul must balance this with his co-prisoners’ calculated attempt at gaining freedom from the camp into the surrounding wilderness with his devotion to the Son of Saul.
It is an incredibly interesting film. I would urge you to see it – even if you don’t like so-called “heavy” films or have a distinct connection or interest in WW2, there is definitely a human element to the film which will peak interest. The film is not exactly based on true events but obviously bares a close resemblance to the situation many people found themselves in. For this reason, the film acts as a dramatic, realistic case study in what is one of the most innovative depictions of the Holocaust yet.