Shortly after its bow at Cannes Film Festival early last year, Laszlo Nemes’ directorial debut Son of Saul sparked a crackle of excitement across the four corners of the industry that has only continued to build and build with each passing festival. At TIFF 2015, our own Sam Woolf championed Nemes’ feature as “one of the most revelatory, emotionally charged, and unforgettable films 2015 has had to offer”, and today’s new trailer sheds light on just why the film has captured the imagination of critics and moviegoers alike.
Placing a laser focus on the harrowing story of one Saul Ausländer (Géza Rohrig), Son of Saul tells its story across a day and a half at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp. As a Sonderkommando prisoner, Saul is cruelly forced into assisting the Nazis by helping dispose the countless bodies of the dead. Pushed to his wit’s end, our protagonist unearths the body of a young boy who he believes to be his wayward son, leading Saul to risk his life in order to secure a proper burial.
Nemes’ Hungarian film is building momentum largely because it focuses on the inspired story of one individual. It may be only one story lifted from an era of near-relentless sorrow, but the director is eager to pinpoint the day-to-day struggle of people living during the throes of the Holocaust.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large-scale extermination. While working in one of the crematoriums, Saul discovers the body of a boy he takes for his son. As the Sonderkommando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child’s body from the flames, find a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish and offer the boy a proper burial.
Son of Saul made its theatrical debut back in December, though a further 17 locations have been added following last week’s triumphant nomination for the Foreign Language Academy Award.