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Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI's Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery Funding from the BFI

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The Zone of Interest

"Jonathan Glazer deliberately avoids the most familiar horrors of the Holocaust to show a further layer of inhumanity."

THE ZONE OF INTEREST (USA) 2023 Drama / History / War

Director : Jonathan Glazer

Starring :  Christian Friedel  
Sandra Hüller    
Johann Karthaus
1 hr  45 min    

The film begins with a return from a day out in the countryside, the first clue as to the milieu the hairstyles: severe undercuts for the boys, braids and pigtails for the girls. Then a flash of a number plate, the zigzagged SS logo dispelling any doubt. The family home appears at first unremarkable: Hedwig (Sandra Hüller, chillingly precise) fusses primly over domestic affairs; Rudolf (Christian Friedel) comes home from work to play patiently with the children, who scamper into the well-kempt garden. And then it comes into view: the unmistakable watchtower, the barbed wire fence. Smoke billows sickeningly into the garden. The name Höss is the final giveaway: we are at home with the commandant of Auschwitz and his happy clan, who live literally next door to the camp where 1.1 million were killed.

Glazer’s camera maintains a cool detachment throughout, locked-off static shots capturing routine family life and gruesome details alike — blood being washed off dad’s boots, children playing with gold teeth — with no discernible shift in register. This is Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” made motion picture with the matter-of-factness of reality TV, master cinematographer Łukasz Żal (Ida) shooting in crisp hi-res digital. Only occasionally and briefly is the aesthetic disrupted in night-time scenes shot in negative that evoke fairy-tales and seem intended to jolt us out of complacency.

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