The Zone Of Interest 2023 Movie Scene Nazi's working at Auschwitz congratulating Christian Friedel as Rudolf Höss's birthday

The Zone of Interest [2023]

As soon as I read the short summary of this movie I knew it was going to be good. That single sentence was just so incredibly powerful, intriguing, and thought-provoking. And I haven’t even seen the damned movie! The Zone of Interest is a gripping drama about the man in charge of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, and his wife Hedwig, who are trying to build a home next to this hellish place. And when I say next to, I really fucking mean it, as the two objects share a wall. You would think that this single premise would not be able to sustain a full-length feature film. And you would be wrong. Each moment of this movie was intense and captivating. 

The Zone of Interest is a movie that explores the age-old questions of why and how are people capable of not just doing such evil acts but also ignoring them. And these two questions bring forth a litany of others. I mean, we can start by comparing Rudolf, a man who committed these atrocities, to his wife, who just knew about them. I just fucking love movies like this. To me, this is not just a movie about the Holocaust, it’s a movie about us. It’s a movie about both our society and specific individuals living in it. And it lays bare the ugly truth no one in the general population wants to admit. And the truth is that there are a lot of Rudolfs and a hell of a lot of Hedwigs in our society.

As I so often said, all of this is a consequence of a tribal system of values. A system in which you delegate your responsibility to someone or something else. This can be a state, religion, your husband, wife, or really anything of perceived authority. And I will keep my promise and write a separate article about this theory of mine. Before I lose you, I just wanted to emphasize a couple of things. First of all, The Zone of Interest may seem like some artsy movie that will possibly bore the shit out of you but I assure you it’s not. Granted, it’s not your usual Hollywood movie but it’s perfectly watchable even if you’re not prone to experimentation.

The direction was simply phenomenal and I think this is Jonathan Glazer’s best film to date. I don’t need to tell you that the sets, costumes, and everything else was just as good. After all, this is a period movie and it was important to get these things right. If you want to know more about the filming process, I recommend this Time article. It features interviews with the director and other crew members. A huge amount of work went into this movie that’s been ten years in the making. Every aspect of it was carefully and precisely envisioned, researched, and executed. The sound design was the thing that got me.

Especially since we will not see all the atrocities that were going on in Auschwitz. We will “only” hear them. Johnnie Burn wrote an 800-page plan detailing everything that you could hear from that wretched yet seemingly ideal house. He then worked for a year on creating the sound library. And the results are astonishing. The Zone of Interest is a movie loosely based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Martin Amis. I did a little research and it turns out that most of what you see in the movie is actually true. The house really looked like that and was located “in the shadow of Auschwitz”.

There’s even a picture of Rudolf’s kids smiling in their garden from 1943. The girl with the apples is also based on a real person, Alexandra, who was ninety years old when Glazer talked to her about the movie. And what a bold decision to film her scenes in that way. I mean, he really is a great director. Although I couldn’t get into his 2013 movie Under the Skin starring Scarlett Johansson. On the other hand, Sexy Beast remains one of the best British gangster movies of all time. Since we had to wait ten years for his next movie, I guess that long cycle begins now.

With that out of the way, it’s time to praise this movie some more. Especially how it portrayed the Nazis as normal humans with behaviors not too dissimilar from our own. We have a husband who’s passionate about his work and enjoys an occasional cigar on the porch along with a bit of cheating. And the homemaker wife loves her children, clothes, and garden. If you didn’t know hundreds of thousands of people were being killed in the concentration camp next door, you would think they’re just like you or me. And only through this authentic character study can reach some conclusions on how to prevent the next war from coming. Philosopher Hannah Arendt coined the term “The Banality of Evil” based on the testimony of another Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann.

So, if you want to dig deeper into this subject I suggest you check out her works. Christian Friedel, who plays Rudolf, and Sandra Hüller, who plays Hedwig, were excellent. Their committed performances added an additional layer to this already phenomenal movie. I could go on and on about how good it is but I don’t want to bore you anymore. Just go fucking watch it and let me know what you think in the comments section below. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like The Zone of Interest, I recommend you check out The Boy in the Striped Pajamas or The Conference. And I guess The Reader starring Kate Winslet is also a good choice. 

Director: Jonathan Glazer

Writers: Martin Amis, Jonathan Glazer

Cast: Christian Friedel, Sandra Hüller, Johann Karthaus, Imogen Kogge, Medusa Knopf, Stephanie Petrowitz

Fun Facts: When bragging about her fur coat, Hedwig says she got if from Canada. In fact, all the people in the orbit of the Auschwitz called Canada the depo with belongings taken from the people going into the camp.


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