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Reviews & Ratings for
Son of Saul More at IMDbPro »Saul fia (original title)

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Experiencing what Saul's seeing, hearing and undertaking.

Author: Reno Rangan from Somewhere in the Cosmos
4 May 2016

The World War II is the largest source supplier for the war movies. I have seen numerous breathtaking braverism, as well as heartbreakingly suffering film characters which are based on the real and sometimes fiction. The genre too differs, from action, adventure, war to the comedy, romance, drama et cetera. Since the Academy Awards nominee announcement in the January I had an eye on this, but now it had won the Oscars that draw my interest even more on this. Anyway, finally saw this, so let me tell you what I feel about it.

It is no ones biopic, but inspired by a collection of testimonies of those who had made out alive from the Auschwitz. Like some of the WWII films, it is very unique, that focused on a particular event and a person. Saul is one of the prisoners in the Nazi held concentration camp who is a slave-labour. His job is to clean the place after prisoners were executed. One day he finds a young boy who was executed and soon he takes the responsibility to give him a proper burial. Risking his own life and others, he begins to find a rabbi to perform the last rites. So what happens later and how it ends is the remaining film.

It is not only enthralling story, but was very clever and unique filmmaking. In this whole film you will see one face at all the time in different angles and mostly they're close shots. Yes, Saul is everywhere, the camera never takes off its lens out of him. We would experience what he sees, listening and undertaking, more like in the real time. Just like a computer game where everything is from our (player's) angle, but here it is us again barely through the Saul's perspective. (Something like the upcoming Hollywood film 'Hardcore Henry' trailer I saw.)

Although, the movies are not the games, like I felt weird during watching 'Need for Speed', when Aaron Paul was at my place. And a movie always needs a character that can take us to the journey through the time and space where it sets, otherwise it will be called a documentary film. The aspect ratio was like the older day films which is narrow that takes time for us to get used to it, yet it is a colour film. More like the entire story is taking place within the 48 hours. Interesting pace and developments, and a decent conclusion. I think it deserved all the praise and prizes given to it.

"You have forsaken the living for the dead."

I know the seriousness of the film and its contents, but I could not avoid the laugh at the end scene. I did not want to, but I did it without my self-awareness after seeing the Saul's face. I hope, there are others too, like me in that situation. Yet the storyline was very strong, like how far would a man can go knowing the life is meaningless after what he's going through. That makes him to take a solo mission when others are struggling and working together for their freedom.

Since I don't know any language that spoken in the movie, I had no problem too to follow the movie. The 1944 settings were so realistic, I think everyone's hard-work was this film's result. All the performances were excellent, especially who played the Saul's role. That is the face no one is going to forget who had watched this film. However the real hero of the film was not the actors or the writers and the director, but the cameraman. Like I said earlier, he had done a brilliant job. If anyone wants to praise this film, he/she must begin with him. The cinematography award at the Oscars might have went to 'The Revenant', but the cameraman award is none other than this guy who shot this film.

I really liked this film, but not overly sympathised or enjoyed. Usually if any movie that's based on the real gets my favour, even the movie has been low quality with more than ignorable flaws. Because telling the truth to the world is what I consider is foremost important than trying to get benefit out of it. But when it's not factual, I expect whatever the cinematical options can make it a better product.

This film comes between them both, but leans mostly on the truth about the World War II prison camp. An insight of what the prisoners have went through. Painful to watch a movie like this, at a time I appreciate the filmmakers for giving this film and let the younger generation know a tiny dot of the incident of the WWII. To watch this film, no one needs a reason. It is automatically a must see, but after watching it, whether you liked it or not is an individual opinion.


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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

One of the best from Holocaust movies

Author: sharondsouza-79536
13 April 2016

This movie though set in the backdrop of WWII at the Auschwitz concentration camp, is just not a war movie. It highlights the human emotions, in the backdrop of extreme adversity. Right from the first frame, you have Saul Auslander's (Géza Röhrig) face which takes you along the movie. There's so much going on with him, that the rebellious uprising around in the camp makes no difference to him. Humiliation, guilt, dealing with death everyday & also being an unwilling participant in these deaths has been empathetically portrayed. The movie doesn't have a dull moment even once with the last scene being just way too perfect for me!

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

mesmerizing, deserves a spot in film history

Author: TheDanger from Brazil
10 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

i believe this is the best portrayal of the holocaust on film. not as stylized or sentimental as schindler's list and not as limited as the pianist. obviously not as real as night and fog, but it certainly looks real

we're 80% of the time behind saul's shoulders, which makes for an extremely immersive and claustrophobic experience. all the torment and suffering is seen through his passive eyes, passive, of course, only when it not comes to his dead son.

also the lens are always very closed, the director don't want to show things, he reveals the terror gradually, without being over the top, nor sensationalistic, nor over-sentimental. he and the cinematographer followed some rules in the film, but they broke it sometimes so it would have some flow and wouldn't be a 100 minutes piece of someone's ego. he lets saul speak through very subtle acting, and the horrors that he's facing are always there, but not really, because we don't have to see it, we know it's there mostly due to fantastic directing

some scenes reminded me of 1985's come and see, especially the chaotic scenes. it's a raw experience, but you can see that a lot of work was put into it to make it look so raw

the movie is so real that the somewhat ambiguous ending left me wondering if it really worked, i think it departed a bit from the initial proposal of the film

overall it's a must see, it's one of those movies that you experience instead of just watch

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Defies expectations in a very good way

Author: csigafattyu from Budapest, Hungary
8 April 2016

This film is very special for the Hungarian audience, and for a good reason. Not very recently we had a liberal government with palpable Israeli influence on local politics. (Most notably, Israeli soldiers dressed as Hungarian cops and firing rubber bullets at peaceful people on the streets on 23 October 2006, on the 50th anniversary of the 1956 revolution.) This government and their Israeli friends did everything to push the Holocaust down the throat of Hungarians and force them to admit their responsibility for it. Hungarians didn't take it well. All they achieved was to convince an entire generation that the Holocaust is a propaganda tool in Israeli politics and the leftist agenda. This movie was not received with too much awe in Hungary. It is viewed as another propaganda piece about a falsely represented historic event. I can't remember any of my friends ever watching it, but I also can't name anyone who hasn't despised it without seeing.

They are wrong. This movie is good. Even if it's just a work of fantasy. It is largely based on the memoirs of Miklós Nyiszli, a Jewish doctor who claimed to have worked for Dr. Joseph Mengele in Auschwitz. His account was the first ever published about the death camp in the 1940s-- and the first to be debunked by historians. Nowadays it's widely accepted to be plain forgery. Nevertheless Holocaust propagandists keep reprinting his story as "authentic".

But this won't make it a bad movie. We all love Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and many more which we also know are not true. Still we feel for its characters and genuinely feel for them. There are many WW2 movies which take place in a historic environment, in battles fought in reality but with fictional characters. Why hate a work of fantasy which takes place in a fictional death camp?

And for that, it's brilliantly made. It truly deserved an Oscar. The novel and unique approach to the protagonist's perspective is unlike I've ever seen. It plays brilliantly with light, sound and emotions. We know it didn't happen this way. Saul Auslander did not exist, his story is not more true than Bambi. Still, death camps did exist. Not this, and not this way, but something very similar did. What if Saul was a German POW in a Siberian death camp? Or if he was a Chinese in a Japanese camp? Or a prisoner today in North Korea's camps?

Definitely not a piece of propaganda. A nicely made movie about humanity. Or well, not so "nicely" - the entire movie is deliberately bleak and unpleasant. I loved it.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely Worthy Of All Its Accolades, Son of Saul Is Essential Viewing.

Author: CinemaClown from India
6 April 2016

The latest recipient of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Son of Saul (also known as Saul fia) is an exceptionally powerful, relentlessly grim & downright disturbing cinema that takes a leaflet out of mankind's darkest phase and weaves an original, absorbing & deeply affecting story around it, all depicted in a manner that only magnifies the haunting horrors of the Holocaust.

The story of Son of Saul takes place inside the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II and covers a day or two in the life of a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner who, along with a selected few, is tasked with the disposal of the corpses of gas chamber victims. The plot follows his dangerous & desperate attempt to provide a proper Jewish burial to the body of a young boy he takes for his son.

Co-written & directed by László Nemes, Son of Saul marks his feature film debut and it is by every means a sensational start to his directional career. The film is disquieting from the very first scene that takes us through Saul's daily duty in the camp and it is through his eyes that we get a glimpse of genocide in fully-operational mode. And all of it is shown from such an extreme close-up that it is bound to discomfort many.

The deftly written screenplay is worthy of mention as well for it keeps a stringent focus on what's going on with the protagonist amidst all the horror, chaos & despair and never for once leaves his side. The decision to illustrate the brutal life of Sonderkommando is commendable too for they've been a subject of controversy throughout history as many consider them to be collaborators who assisted the Nazi in exterminating their own race.

Son of Saul shows that Sonderkommando were no less victims than other prisoners in the camp for they had no control of their destinies, were inducted into the unit regardless of their choice & were forced to act under the threat of death. Their slightly improved living conditions compared to other prisoners only existed because they were needed by Germans to keep their death factories running and while it was a cruel situation for them to be in, it did help them survive longer than the others.

Cinematography is a definite highlight for the camera stays alongside Saul throughout his ordeal & serves as his companion at all times. It also employs shallow focus to blur the genocidal massacre taking place in the background and the unusual aspect ratio it opts for further helps in realising its narrow field of vision. Many segments are shot in single, unbroken takes plus the very atmosphere of despair & gruesome horror is effectively maintained over the course of its 107 minutes runtime.

Sound design is another impressive element that, through the expertly assembled screams, cries & pleadings, gives the viewers a perception of what's happening around Saul at any given time, thus allowing them to imagine the horrible imagery on their own. And just like the stellar camera-work, it stays within the main character's field of vision & hearing. Editing is brilliantly carried out for there isn't even one inessential sequence present in the final print and all events unfold at a steady pace.

Coming to the performances, Géza Röhrig carries the entire picture on his shoulders and delivers a very strong, finely layered & emotionally resonant rendition of his character. For the most part, it's a silent showcase from Röhrig as the camera relies only on his body language to express what he's going through and he truly nails that part. Rest of the supporting cast also chip in with outstanding inputs but the film's real payoff is in witnessing a man's efforts to carry out a humane deed amidst reckless evil.

On an overall scale, Son of Saul is a profoundly upsetting, absolutely devastating & emotionally scarring cinema that captures the implementation of Nazi's "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" from an unsettling close-range, provides an authentic sense of what it's like to be in a living hell, and works as both a thrilling drama & an informative historical piece that retains all the harrowing reality of the Holocaust without abandoning its own story. Absolutely worthy of all its accolades, inarguably the best film of 2015, and a must-watch for all, this Hungarian masterpiece is essential viewing in every sense of the word & comes very highly recommended.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

World War II flicks are always good Oscar bait; at least this one offers something fresh!

Author: Hellmant from United States
11 March 2016

'SON OF SAUL': Four Stars (Out of Five)

This year's Oscar winning Best Foreign Language film, is this World War II drama flick. It's about a concentration camp prisoner, who's forced to burn the bodies of his own people, that goes on an obsessive mission to give a deceased boy a proper burial. The movie was directed by first time feature filmmaker Laszlo Nemes; and it was written by Nemes and Clara Royer. The film stars Geza Rohrig; a New York City-based Hungarian poet (that hadn't acted since the 1980s!). It's received mostly rave reviews from critics, and I mostly agree with them.

The story takes place in a 1944 Auschwitz concentration camp. Saul Auslander (Rohrig) is a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner there, that's forced to help cremate fellow Jews. One day he notices that a young boy is still breathing; after being gassed in a Nazi gas chamber. The boy is killed, by a prison doctor, and an autopsy is ordered. Saul makes it his mission to rescue the corpse; and give it a proper burial. He spends the next day-and-a-half trying to locate a rabbi to help him.

The movie is oddly filmed in the 'found footage' format; which isn't possible (given the time period it's set in) but it's still an interesting directing tool. It makes the film seem more claustrophobic, but it also makes it seem much slower-paced (which can be very frustrating at times). Overall I found the movie to be very creative, interesting and horrific; and (like other films of it's type) it seems just as much like a horror movie as a drama. World War II flicks are always good Oscar bait; at least this one offers something fresh, and original, as well.

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0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Worthy of its Golden Globe win for Best Foreign Language Film

Author: jamieleeackerman from United States
22 February 2016

Such a moving film worthy of its Golden Globe win for Best Foreign Language Film. "Son of Saul" was incredibly captivating even with the language barrier. Usually I don't love films with subtitles because it can distract from the performances, but the cast was so incredible, the subtitles didn't take away any aspect of the film. Géza Röhrig did an wonderful job as the lead character Saul. Set in a concentration camp, "Son of Saul" brought to light important events that happened in our world's history. Director László Nemes took such a terrible, sad subject and made the film intriguing to its audience. I'm excited to see if this film will take yet another award at the Academy Awards.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A Holocaust Film That Deserves To Be Seen

Author: jadepietro from United States
11 March 2016

(RATING: ☆☆☆☆ out of 5)


IN BRIEF: Despite its powerful images, the film's threadbare story feels more of a plot device than it need be.


SYNOPSIS: A concentration camp prisoner goes on a personal quest to find a rabbi among the other prisoners who can give a dead child a proper Jewish funeral.

JIM'S REVIEW: 2015's Oscar-winning Best Foreign Film winner, Hungary's Son of Saul, finally has its nation-wide theatrical distribution release and arrives to our local cinemas nearly four months after debuting in New York and Los Angeles to meet Academy Award deadlines. (I will be including this film in my 2016 film list.)

Géza Röhrig plays Saul, an Auschwitz survivor and "Sonderkommando'' (bearer of secrets), part of a select crew of prisoners whose daily routine includes cleaning the concentration camp's showers and efficiently disposing of the bodies of Jewish victims.

First-time director László Nemes conveys strong images of the atrocities. He usually shows the violent acts in distant background shots, making these cruel and senseless acts more horrific and focusing on Saul himself and his numbing reaction to the slaughter surrounding him. It is an auspicious debut of a talent to watch.

The film is brutal and most effective in its handling of the daily torture and murder that befell the Auschwitz Jewish population. Its matter-of-fact telling and use of sound design and mixing heightens the tension. There is no music score to manipulate our emotions, creating an all too real experience.

But the film's screenplay, also by its director and Clara Royer, follows a rather thin storyline that, while heart-breaking, fails to make sense. If Saul's sole mission is to give a dead child a proper Jewish funeral, a human and heroic action, his incessant dedication endangers everyone around him, not to mention his ability to illogically travel throughout the camp without notice or objection. This gives our protagonist the appearance of being a foolhardy and dangerous loner, unable to show any degree of emotion or concern about anyone or anything else. This may be the trait the director wants in his character, yet it makes Saul unsympathetic and his motives and actions remain an enigma. Mr. Röhrig is good in his role, although other characters are sketchy and stereotypes of the genre (the angry rebel, the evil Nazi, the brutish bully, etc.), in need of more delineation.

Still, Son of Saul skillfully depicts the Holocaust with disturbing reality and reaches a sad and satisfying conclusion that makes this harrowing journey all the more memorable.

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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Can a WWII Movie Ever go Wrong?

Author: Rob Starzec from United States
21 February 2016

Seeing this movie is like watching Elephant by Gus Van Sant (in terms of the visual style), but maybe five times more depressing. A lot of the film is done in long takes where we follow Saul's perspective from behind his head as he navigates his complex journey, interweaving between various work groups in different concentration camps.

What is both great and confusing about the movie is that the plot points are touched on very briefly. The way that conversations take place in Son of Saul are naturalistic: since the characters are aware of what they are talking about and planning, things are not overly explained, allowing the audience to fill in the information not given to them. The general ideas of the plot points are easy to follow, but multiple viewings may be required to FULLY register what is happening.

The film takes place in a matter of about a day and a half, and while the movie only runs at less than two hours, with all the long takes the movie feels close to running in "real time." Because of these elaborate long takes like in The Revenant, released the same year, we have to admire the direction and choreography involved in all of these long takes, especially considering the large amounts of extras used in the film to make it feel authentic.

This isn't a traditional narrative as far as cinema goes, but it is a great one. People die without much attention focused on each death: the characters move on, but isn't that closer to authenticity? To reality? It's been done before in films like Saving Private Ryan and Children of Men and it encapsulates the sad reality of death in war: it happens and there is nothing to do about it. This being said, some may not like the protagonist, Saul, for similar reasons, but then again this is not an uplifting movie by any means.

One last note: the film has a 4:3 ratio rather than what has become the standard: either 16:9 or 2.35:1, but this does not make the film worse by any means. This is a great foreign film from the 2010's.


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1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Intriguing portrait of one of mankinds biggest cruelties.

Author: yorn-heijnen from Netherlands
14 January 2016

What makes this film so fascinating is it's style. The film relies heavily on sounds instead of visuals. It tells it's own story while the camera is almost constantly being glued to it's main character. 99% of the film consists out of close up and medium shots. This combined with the 4:3 video format adds to the claustrophobic feel the cinematography creates. In most of the shots, only the main character is in focus, being almost entirely shot with 40 mm lenses. This adds up to the great style of this film. You feel trapped in the story of the main character and need the sounds to fully understand what's happening. This is a great choice because everyone knows the gruesome details of the holocaust already and it adds to the fact nobody knows what exactly happened, it's different to everyone's perception but the sounds tell you the horrible events.

The story is simple but effective. It follows a Hungarian prisoner who has to work as an executioner, cleaning the gas chambers until he finds a boy which he assumes is his son. He wants to do everything to give him a proper burial. It's about finding the tiniest piece of dignity in the most gruesome events. When the credits rolled, it left a remarkable impression. I felt relieved it was over while also being impressed by the film at the same time.

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