Ben Oliver

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The Zone of Interest

The life we enjoy is very much worth the sacrifice.
27 February 2024

Auschwitz commander Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel) tries to build a dream life for himself and his family in a house and garden built right by the concentration camp.

Glazer focuses entirely on the banality of day-to-day life in this film, with a soundtrack of death and horror ringing out over the house and garden. There’s no story, just people getting on with cooking, cleaning, eating and gardening.

To me it sounds like a poor-taste high-concept gimmick, but unlike say Jojo Rabbit this does give us something new to think about and is worthy of the attention it’s been getting. It’s chilling in the same way that the home-movies of Hitler enjoying himself are chilling, the knowledge and cheerful ignorance of what’s going on behind the wall is itself an atrocity.

Beyond that I have the same reservations I have with all Holocaust films - it’s still just a film, and I’m never sure if it’s the right medium. There’s a set, and there are people playing dress-up as Nazis, and we’re still selling tickets to the show.

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