hard to cope with what humanity, or its best part had to face against its worst one, more brutal, violent in such an inexplicable way during WWII. László Nemes’ “Son of Saul” follows the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, where prisoners were forced to burn the corpses of their own people. However, a man whose fate is the same as his dying “brothers” finds moral survival, trying to salvage from the mass-burn the body of a boy he takes for his son. Despite the high risk of speeding up his own death, Saul tries to accomplish his mission at any cost, even if that cost is getting killed before his scheduled time.
The movie begins with Saul, who collects one corpse after another, to bring them at a designated place. Meantime, he cleans up every inch in the camp assigned to him, while in the background you see nothing but corpses and his other fellows who work as hard as him. Shortly after, he hears a groan of a boy who is taken to the doctor’s office where he dies. From that moment on, all of Saul’s concentration and attention is on that boy, who he assumes is his son. He embarks himself on a journey to give a proper burial to his son. However, without a rabbi he finds it impossible to do.
An incredible job is done by the director, who follows Saul right from the beginning and never loses him. The entire film contains blurry backgrounds, sounds of gun shot, shouting people, and the ashes of already burned corpses. Saul is a man who barely talks. He does not deliver much lines, while his actions complete that gap. It’s absolutely difficult and painful film to watch, as it shows, perhaps, one of the most unimaginable sides of a human being, whose life was cheaper than a penny. It’s a fine holocaust masterpiece, where you as a viewer will be left no chance but to experience everything first hand.
It’s astonishing to see Saul’s desperate attempt to find a Rabbi, when he is free of his usual business in the camp. At some point, the scene when you see hundreds of corpses being burned outside of the camp, you start feeling a terrible smell attacking you through the silver screen. That is what makes Nemes’ film so captivating, powerful and engaging, when you find yourself thinking of walking off the screening, as you sometimes can’t handle the pressure prisoners must go through or feel the same feelings of fear, desperation, the way it happened with its heroes.
“Son of Saul” is a wonderful piece of art, and true masterpiece. However, you must be prepared to see a well-researched film, with the scenes brought to life as realistically as possible. Everything you see in the film is through Saul’s eyes and at times you may wish him blind. Nemes’ film will show you what it is to be human in inhumane condition. It showcases bravery in a world full of chaos, desperation and death. It highlights the life of a person, who cares about the proper burial for his son more than his own life. In the end, all what you get is the question of how was it possible to achieve monstrous levels of hatred towards another human being, when war is a great opportunity to show how humble and noble a human being could be… by preventing a mass killing… But I guess, that’s wishful thinking which will never materialize.