László Nemes’s holocaust drama Son of Saul has been on our absolute must see watch list ever since it came out and some time ago we finally had the opportunity to see it. Naturally we could not wait to sit down and pour our thoughts out of it.

The strange thing about it however was that I happened to be visiting in Israel at the moment when we did our Skype talk, which brought the effect of the film to another emotional level. Our discussion drifted apart from the movie to topics about faith, humanity and generational aftermath and trauma.

Spoilers: We don’t spoil anything about the plot.

Sonderkommando photograph

Photographer: Alex, Aleko or Alekos, a member of the Sonderkommando from Greece, often named as Albert, Alex or Alberto Errera, a Greek army or naval officer who died in Auschwitz in 1944.

One of four photographs from Auschwitz-Birkenau in Nazi-occupied Poland, part of a series known as the Sonderkommando photographs. The photograph shows bodies waiting to be burned. Bodies were burned in outdoor fire pits when the crematoria were full.

In the film we are shown a dramatisation of the moment this photograph was taken.

Timeline

  • [00:00] – What is it about?
  • [05:30] – Sonderkommando discussion
  • [08:00] – Claustrophobic perspective
  • [10:40] – Saul’s life and the child
  • [17:00] – Fatelessness
  • [22:20] – The insanity
  • [24:00] – The suggestion of the situation
  • [27:30] – Non-linguistic movie experience
  • [33:30] – How can we make amends to what Saul had to experience?
  • [51:15] – About not showing
  • [56:30] – Gunter Demnig
  • [1:03:00] – Woman in Gold
  • [1:10:00] – How to keep humanity
  • [1:12:00] – The sounds in the background

Movies, books and artists we mention: