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Son of Saul Holocaust Movie

Updated on March 2, 2016

Must See !

Son of Saul belongs on the same shelf as Shindler’s List and other holocaust movies. This Hungarian film is a grim tale that may have occurred. It is a hopeless, all for nothing, stunning film. After you leave the cinema, you think about it all long afterwards. I saw it days ago, and it still lingers. It is not a horribly graphic film but the viewer knows what is going on with the unfocused images lingering in the background.

Son of Saul is the worst case scenario. Saul is a Hungarian POW in a German extermination camp, part of a special unit that works there through forced labor in the extermination unit. This unit aids the Germans in corralling incoming Jews off the train, into the fake the showers naked, before they are gassed. After the gassing, they enter to remove the bodies, clean the showers, gather their clothes and belonging. Along the way, they pilfer what they can secretly to barter for more food and perks from the Germans. His wife is also there, but in the women’s section, sorting out the clothes, teeth, belongings of those that were gassed. Saul also has to help move the bodies to the crematorium and shove them into the oven. You can tell, it greatly bothers him, yet, everything is kept inside silently.

What makes the movie so unforgettable are a few scenes, one, the screaming of the victims inside the showers as the gas starts and the panic to no avail at the doors- scratching, pounding, panic, as those inside try to go nowhere but death. It lasts for a bit as Saul and others just stand there listening on the other side. Grim and horrific as it is, the sounds gradually dissipate to silence. Then, like business, the Germans open the doors and the Hungarians start their grim tasks.

Everything in the camp is at a high pace. Nobody just lingers about and it starts from the time the Jews get of the freight cars of the incoming train. They are told to get clean with a fresh shower and then have nice meal. But, there are thousands of them, and the scene is just chaos all over and at times, brutal. The viewer only sees blurred out shapes of the mass bodies, or those being put in ovens, or being dragged. It is hard to watch.

This is probably what it was really like at the height of Hitler’s extermination of the Jews, when thousands were gassed daily and their piles of ashes fill dump trucks that are taken to a nearby river to be shoveled into the water. Those piles of ashes were people, kids, doctors, etc. Knowing this just make this and other scenes unforgettable!

Then, after one gassing, a lone survivor in the pile of bodies happens. Saul discovers that it his son from a previous marriage, a 12 yr. old boy. He has no control over the situation and keeps this secret to himself. The boy is quickly taken to a table and a German doctor exams him. Saul, standing close by, can only watch, which is so hard. The doctor decides to kill the boy and suffocates him as Saul watches helplessly. After the boy is killed, the doctor turns to Saul and instructs him to take him to another doctor for autopsy! Saul dutifully does his with little emotion. However, when he gets to the other doctor, who is a Hungarian doctor POW, confides who the boy is and wants to take the body for a proper burial. The doctor agrees and from that point on, the movie revolves around hiding the corpse, an escape from the camp with the corpse, seeing his wife one last time, trying to find a Rabbi for last rites for his son, plus, his daily routine in the oven factory.

The whole situation is dire, grim. Yet, the viewer most of the movie is what did happen to those caught in horror. When Saul finally escapes, he carries his son through the woods until he finds a suitable spot to bury him with the Rabbi. They start frantically digging as the Germans are in the hunt. Both soon realize, there is no more time, and simply leave the corpse along the shore of the river. The escapees race through the woods until they rest in a shack. As they do, Germans silently surround the shack and they execute them all.

The movie ends and you simply leave thinking about Saul, his dilemma, his horror, his life and how Hitler made it useless in the end. It was all for nothing. Saul lost everything, including himself.

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