Saturday, March 12, 2016

Son of Saul (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Son of Saul

This year's Academy Award winner in the foriegn category "Son of Saul" by  László Nemes is a flawless and riveting story of the horror of The Holocaust. It is punchy, dynamic, sickening in detail and does not hold back.

A concentration camp worker in charge of body disposal, Saul Auslander (Géza Röhrig) sees his son survive the gassing, only to be put to death by a Nazi doctor. Needless to say he is numb. He persuades the doctor to delay the autopsy. Saul is determined to find a rabbi to say the Kaddish, giving his boy the proper burial.

First and foremost is the stunning cinematography by Mátyás Erdély which delivers the concept of Saul as a man on the border of life, quickly darting around corners of darkness without a chance to breathe and taking nothing for granted. Saul is a full man but he is treated less so, little more than a fly. The wild, jittery and furtive camera bears this out and becomes a character in the film.

Action in the foreground is in sharp detail while a mere foot in the background, all is blurry and indistinct. The events before us are too horrible to envision beyond visceral jolts, and this makes the episodes all the more shocking.

Here and there, Saul is hassled at the most inopportune times. A few moments of satisfaction which at first seem achievable are often snatched away under a burdensome haze of dead flesh. Often he is misunderstood or ignored entirely. Seen in this way, the film has an unmistakable resemblance to the stories of Kafka. Saul is promised a future outcome when in actuality, he only travels further and further into darkness to witness a carnival of abhorrent misery.

The immaculate and shining officers are nonchalant crass and mad, fattened and stuffed by belittling and demeaning humor.

This is a minimal and uncomprising creation, completely without the stylistic overtures of the classic and potent   "Schindler's List."  It is far the most visceral and direct film of the period that I have seen. Though not for every visual palate, "Son of Saul" stands alone with an unflinching honesty, where others have pulled away into convention.

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