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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

🏆 The Zone of Interest, (2023) - Through the Lens of Evil: An Intimate Look at History

Rating: ★★★½ (3.5/5 stars)

Released 12-15-2023

Watched 03-02-2024

Reviewed 03-05-2024

Purchased From Apple TV

"The thing about human beings is that we're endlessly, horribly adaptable. People can learn to live with just about anything"

"The Zone of Interest," Jonathan Glazer's 2023 historical drama, is a chilling and profound exploration of the banality of evil, presenting an uncomfortably intimate portrait of Rudolf Höss and his family living an idyllic life next to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The film's unique shooting style, employing up to 10 remote cameras with no on-set crew, lends an eerie voyeurism to the narrative, allowing actors Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller to deliver hauntingly performances as Höss and his wife, Hedwig.

Glazer's decision to focus on the sounds of Auschwitz, treating them as a separate, parallel narrative, adds a harrowing depth to the film, making the unseen atrocities palpably present. The meticulous sound design by Johnnie Burn, built on a foundation of historical research and creative sourcing, is both innovative and disturbing, amplifying the horror of the Holocaust without visual representation.

While the film's cinematography and sound design are undeniably masterful, and its approach to storytelling through implication and atmosphere is powerful, "The Zone of Interest" may not resonate with all audiences. The reliance on subtitles may detract from the immersive experience for some viewers, and the film's length, coupled with its relentlessly dark subject matter, can feel overwhelming. While its artistic merits are significant, contributing to its acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival and its recognition by the National Board of Review and at the BAFTAs, these same qualities may limit its accessibility and overall appeal.

In summary, "The Zone of Interest" is a bold and artistically ambitious film that succeeds in offering a new lens on the Holocaust's horrors through the juxtaposition of domestic normalcy against the backdrop of genocide. However, its heavy reliance on subtitles, the unyielding darkness of its theme, and a runtime that some may find excessive slightly mar its impact. As a short film, its potent storytelling and innovative techniques could have achieved near perfection, but as a feature, it settles as a compelling yet challenging 3.5-star historical drama.


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