"Saul fia" is a Hungarian masterpiece. It presents the holocaust from a very particular point of view. Before, cinema presented this horrible spot of the mankind from a "global" angle. Spielberg's "Schindler's List" for instance takes care basically of the global fate of the people in the death camps. In contrary, "Saul fia" focuses to the individual, hence we see (or we suspect) all the horrible events through the eyes of Saul, a Sonderkommando member. These people (chosen from the Jews) actually do the dirty jobs, the ones which are even worse than the death itself: they have to witness the killing of their own family members and friends, then burn the corps, clean the gas chambers and even shovel the ashes into a river. One can find no words, indeed.
During the whole film, we are on tenterhooks and one hopes that a salvation shall come for these people. The only "redemption" that Saul found is to bury decently the corps of a young boy, that he recognizes as his own son. Actually the boy survives the gas chamber and he is killed "manually" by some German doctors in front of Saul. No words, again. The desperate search of Saul for a rabbi gives a sort of meaning for his life, which has already been burned together with the others in the fire, even though physically he still lives. Despite the fact that the Sonderkommando members shall be liquidated soon, he keeps looking for a rabbi. Even when there is chance to escape, he doesn't leave the body of the boy behind. Hundreds of thousands are killed, burned and can be left behind, but this boy is special. We shall never know for sure if he was Saul's son, but even dead, he gives an immense power and motivation for Saul.
Telling this unbelievable story that shows the upper limit of the cruelty of the man and the disregard of the human life, this movie remains a fine masterpiece. László Nemes has profound ideas, the movie showed that he deserved the Grand Prix at Cannes. Géza Röhrig is a very deep person, who can share something more, something personal as a message of the film. The cinematography is amazing, one has the feeling that there are almost no cuts, the camera just follows Saul everywhere. These show also some similarities in my opinion with Iñárritu's "Birdman". This special style has born in the last years and in my opinion it is very interesting to see it independently in different contexts, in two different parts of the world. It is a very-very painful, and a very deep movie. I hope that we shall hear about it also during the next Oscar nominations.
The Nazi regime and everything associated with it has been demonized in the past six decades up to a point where it is truly hard for a layperson to have a fairly realistic view of how things were. Don't get me wrong: every bit of the moral condemnation is fully deserved and necessary to be made.
However, we have to understand, that Nazis were just as human as any regular guy. It wasn't demons, or Satan or some unimaginable evil that has committed those crimes- they were people, cruel & despicable people, but otherwise having the same feelings, fears & uncertainties as any one of us. Attributing demonic powers to the enemy is never a good way to understand; and you might say who wants to understand such a thing?; but there is no other way to learn from the past- or from anything else for that matter- then trying to be realistic instead of dismissing.
We HAVE to condemn crimes that have taken place; but we have to condemn them for the right reasons; only after medicine has learned that diseases are caused by microorganisms, genetics etc. rather then by evil spirits that it was able to treat them. It is only if we accept that the nazi crimes(and many others before & after) were the results of deeply human processes that we can hope to avoid them in the future.