The Zone of Interest: Distanced Lives, Absent Voices, by Scott Nye

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2 Responses

  1. Zone of Interest is richer than this review finds it to be, I think. It quietly reveals some darker sides of human nature, by essentially ignoring the historical race theory and nationalism behind the concentration camps in order to show simpler and timeless destructive elements that we in the audience might actually be guilty of, too.

    Hoss is a careerist, and a family man if you ignore his philandering and emotional distancing from his children, so his employer’s peculiar business model hardly matters to him in a moral or ethical sense, just as a successful car salesperson can work for and tout Ford one week, then work for and tout General Motors the next, caring only about commissions and quotas.

    Hoss’s wife Hedwig wants social status, leisure, a subservient household staff, children sheltered from unpleasantries, a fine garden, and the occasional silk panties taken from a Jew entering Auschwitz. Hedwig is not at all bothered by the nightmares suffered on the other side of the wall.

    But her visiting mother, a former cleaning lady to an affluent Jewish family, has to abandon comfort and familial coziness once she understands. The Jews and their suitcases are herded to their deaths, contrasted by the mother-in-law and her suitcase managing an escape.

    And the film explores the question of the extent to which children absorb or resist the beliefs and failures of their parents. A young Hoss child who begins by playing with toy soldiers ends up playing with dice, suggesting a transcendence of orderly nationalism as he reaches intuitive understanding that life and death can be arbitrary. Hearing guards or sonderkommando ordered to drown an inmate for fighting over an apple, the child quietly says “Don’t do it again,” presumably substituting what he would have uttered instead. If he fails to understand the implications of what he heard, he has an excuse that we adults cannot claim.

    The film theme is less about the holocaust than it is about how people of all times ignore the horrors going on around them, and simply go on with their banal daily lives and ambitions. The late scene of the cleaning crew at the post-war Auschwitz museum was a wonderful choice, reinforcing the film’s point about our needing to acknowledge and remember.

  2. John says:

    You really missed the mark here. Wow. Maybe one day you can re watch it and be more open minded. Once in a while a truly original film comes along and forces the moviegoer to “watch” in a different way. It did upset you so theres that at least.

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