Son of Saul
Son of Saul
Director: László Nemes
Writers: László Nemes, Clara Royer
Cast: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont, Jerzy Walczak, Gergö Farkas, Balázs Farkas, Sándor Zsótér, Marcin Czarnik, Levente Orbán, Kamil Dobrowolski, Uwe Lauer, Christian Harting, Attila Fritz, Mihály Kormos
Synopsis: 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.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for disturbing violent content, and some graphic nudity.
7.8 / 10
- Great story, with a lot of powerful thought provoking messages about how hope can still shine even when things don't always go your way.
- The acting was pretty good
- The cinematography really helps create the claustrophobic atmosphere that the Jews experience in Nazi concentration camps.
- The musical score matched the tone of the movie nicely
- The direction was pretty good
- The film is very sad, so I wouldn't watch this film unless you're in the mood to watch a depressingly dark film about the darkness of humanity.
- The cinematography gets a bit annoying at times, as it's constantly shaking even when the characters standing still half the time. It becomes distracting, as you're trying to follow the story.
A morbidly sad story that sticks with you long after you see it
"Son of Saul" is a touchingly deep story about a man that's locked away inside a Nazi concentration camp, during World War II. With very little to live for in his life, he's constantly forced to burn the bodies of his own people, in order to survive. Never being allowed to rest, while periodically fearing that they could kill him at a moment's notice. However, one day he finds out about a small boy that died, in the same camp he was stationed in. The boy looked no older than twelve, yet he still died young. The Nazis order to have the body dissected and burned, but Saul feels that it's inappropriate.
Although he never met the kid formally, he can't help but become protective of his dead body as if he was the deceased corpse of his own son. This prompts him to go on a quest to not only hide the body from the Nazis, but it also forces him to try to get in touch with anyone who might help him escape with it, so he can give the boy a proper Jewish funeral.
On the surface, this might seem like nothing more than a simple prison break film set in a Nazi concentration camp, but it's actually a story of a man striving to keep his own humanity alive by caring for the body of a dead child as if it were corpse of one of his own children.
For the most part, "Son of Saul" is a touching film that tugs at your heart strings; especially when you witness the tragedy that happens around the end. I won't spoil it for my readers, but it's a bitter sweet ending that'll make you feel both happy and sad at the same time, as it shows that even in witnessing the darkest parts of humanity that something positive can always come out of it. Like real life, nothing is ever black and white as we'd like it to be, but it's the tiniest moments of happiness that makes the cruelty we endure worth it in the bitter end.
The cinematography seems to be done using a single camera, as it constantly follows our protagonist rather closely. Every time Saul walks somewhere, the camera is always a few inches away from the back of his neck, and the majority of the shots are closeups of the characters' faces.
Granted, this does work to help create the claustrophobic environment that these Jews were forced to live in, during WWIII. However, it can also get annoying. Since the camera work seems to be mostly done with one handheld one, it tends to shake a lot; even when the characters are standing still half the time. However, if you're able to look past the shoddy camera work, then "Son of Saul" isn't a bad movie to check out.
Sure, the movie can be morbidly depressing considering it's content, and the camera work can get very annoying at times. However, if you're into deeply moving stories about hope shining through humanity's darkest hours, then "Son of Saul" fails to disappoint. In some ways, it reminds me of the bitter sweet ending that Akira Kurasawa's classic film, "Rashomon" had going for it.
Like "Son of Saul", it too had a bitter sweet ending depicting cruelty and violence of humanity; hence showing how dark our world can be. Yet out of that darkness, hope and goodness can always shine through in the end. Sure, the ending can be a bit sad, but it's those bitter moments of hope that make the darkest hours tolerable.
"Son of Saul" may not give audiences the happy ending that we're used to being spoon fed by most movie studios, but it gives you something much more in return.
© 2016 Steven Escareno