Son of Saul / Saul Fia


Director: Laszlo Nemes
Country of origin: Hungary
Release year: 2015
Runtime: 107 min.

Starring: Geza Rohrig, Levente Molnar, Urs Rechn

Awards: Cannes - Grand Prix, FIPRESCI award

Son of Saul / Saul Fia
Transatlantyk Panorama
It is extremely rare that a feature debut of a widely unknown filmmaker goes straight to the main competition in Cannes, the most prestigious film festival in the world. And what if we talk about the  film winning a Cannes Palm? The Hungarian "Son of Saul" was honored at this year's festival with the Grand Prix - the second most important prize awarded on the French Riviera. It automatically made the 38-year-old Laszlo Nemes become one of those young artists who the critics focus their attention on.

The title character, Saul, is a member of the Sonderkommando, an organization operating in Auschwitz - Birkenau. The Sonderkommando consists of Jewish prisoners who are forced to help the Nazis in carrying out their daily tasks at the camp. The film paints a story of two days in the life of Saul just before the outbreak of a rebellion. The man tries to find in himself at least elements of humanity that is blurred by the brutal realities of the concentration camp. Meanwhile, he witnesses the killing of a young boy. Saul considers him as his son and in the impulse of charity decides to bury him with dignity. But for this he needs the help of a rabbi.

This is not a "Schindler's List" – Nemes’ film is extremely naturalistic and literal. It is highly emotional as well - the camera peeks into every nook and cranny of the camp, follows frightened prisoners sentenced to death, registers fear and relief, suffering and death. This almost documentary narrative enhanced by the experimental form (long, takes that go on for several minutes) makes the "Son of Saul" an extremely original work. If we add to that the artistic high quality, it becomes clear why this particular movie has caused such a furore in Cannes.

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