spacetime coordinates: Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, Poland 6 – 7 October 1944Son of Saul (Hungarian: Saul fia) is a 2015 Hungarian drama film directed by László Nemes and co-written by Nemes and Clara Royer. It is set in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, and follows a day-and-a-half in the life of Saul Ausländer (played by Géza Röhrig), a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando. The film’s many historical sources included the personal accounts of Schlomo Venezia and Filip Müller, the records of Miklos Nyiszli, a Romanian-Jewish doctor who was forced to work in the crematoria, and Claude Lanzmann‘s Shoah (1985).
During the preparation, director László Nemes, cinematographer Mátyás Erdély and production designer László Rajk made a pledge to stick to certain rules, or a “dogma”, which included: The film cannot look beautiful. // The film cannot look appealing. // We cannot make a horror film. // Staying with Saul means not going beyond his own field of vision, hearing, or presence. // The camera is his companion, it stays with him throughout this hell.
The film took five months of sound design, where human voices in eight languages were recorded and attached to the original recording of the production. Sound designer Tamás Zányi described the sound in the film “as a sort of acoustic counterpoint to the intentionally narrowed imagery”. The music score by László Melis is intentionally kept so subtle that viewers won’t even notice it. (read more: imdb, wiki)The film follows the same stylistic approach as László Nemes’ first and most successful short film Türelem (2007). In the short, the camera follows a woman proceed with her daily work routine with a very narrow focus and vision, until she walks up to a window and sees a group of Jewish prisoners stripped down by Sonderkommando prisoners and SS officers. The short is available online HERE.