There have been a lot of films about the holocaust, but none have had the intimate rawness of Son of Saul (Saul Via).
The debut feature from Hungarian director László Nemes, the film stars Géza Röhrig as Saul. He is part of the Sonderkommando, a group of Hungarian Jews that are tasked with helping to dispose of the bodies of people killed in the concentration camps, amongst other duties. It is during these duties that he finds a young boy that he recognises as his own son and desperately tries to find a rabbi that can recite the Kaddish and give him a proper Jewish burial.
Filmed in stark close-ups, the camera rarely leaves the side of the main character. It helps to connect with him, as you almost literally become him, following him wherever he goes.
The way it is filmed is very interesting, as you are following him and the camera is always in close up on his face, sometimes you don’t see what is going on around him and, helped my the terrific sound design, it makes it seem somewhat more horrific than actually seeing it. It’s left to your imagination.
Filmed in 35mm and in the 1.375:1 aspect ratio, both help with the shallow focus of the film and a portrait-like sensibility. It makes the screen smaller and the film seem somehow more intimate. The film stock gives it a green and grimy look to it, with all aspects of filming bringing you closer to the experience.
It’s not an easy watch by any means but it is an ultimately rewarding one. I guarantee you will be thinking about it for days.
War,Drama | Hungary, 2015 | 15 | Curzon Artificial Eye | 4th July 2016 (UK) |Dir. László Nemes | Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont, Jerzy Walczak | Buy: [DVD]