Saturday, June 22, 2024

“The Zone of Interest”: A Dispassionate Recollection of Brutality

Unlike most modern film trailers, it was unclear what to expect of “The Zone of Interest” without seeing the German film in its entirety: of course, it’s understood that it’s a loose adaptation of Martin Amis’ 2014 novel, an exposé of S.S. commandant Rudolf Höss and his family’s “aloof” lives. And while it’s tough to classify “The Zone of Interest” in the horror genre considering its historical rootedness, it certainly watches like one.

Coined by cartoonist Art Spiegelman, the idea of “Holokitsch” — that the Holocaust is performed about in unsettling excess — applies to this film. Still, “The Zone of Interest” manages to offer a refreshed perspective: by dimming visual horrors often shown in films like “Schindler’s List” and “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” Jonathan Glazer’s film conveys the Holocaust’s depravities through sound and brief glances. Wailing screams, gunshots, and chimney smoke are juxtaposed against the Höss family’s detached dream life: complete with scenic rivers, horseback riding, and bedtime stories.

Without being re-traumatized visually, audiences instead are left to feel and hear how complacency leads to monstrousness. By making the Auschwitz III camp’s realities “background noise,” we’re faced instead with the fact that families sat by — mere feet from genocide — and went about their lives unbothered. And in the face of today’s real-life atrocities too, that message becomes almost more terrifying. It brings up thoughts like, “Who do we become when we become so self-regarding?” and “How far will we allow ourselves to ignore injustice?”

Rarely before have tall green trees, honeybees, and birthday celebrations been haunting, but in these 106 minutes they will become so. “The Zone of Interest” will stick with audience members in a stubborn, nagging way. It’s the “banality of evil” theory onscreen, and it’s done insidiously well. And though it’s leaving Coronado Village Theatre soon, it’s one Oscar-nominated film that’s worth leaving the island for.

Movie Times: Click Here

Genre: History, Drama, War

Director: Jonathan Glazer

Actors: Nele Ahrensmeier, Anastazja Drobniak, Lilli Falk, Christian Friedel, Sandra Hüller, Johann Karthaus, Cecylia Pekala, Kalman Wilson & Luis Noah Witte

Run Time: 1 hr, 46 min

Rating: PG-13 for Some Suggestive Material, Smoking, and Thematic Material

Caroline Minchella
Caroline Minchella
Caroline was 15 years old when her family moved to Coronado. Though she was a “transplant”, Caroline found a home in the Coronado community near-immediately: she became an intern for “The Coronado Times”; helped reinstate the CHS newspaper, “The Islander Times”; was a volunteer dog-walker for PAWS; and a faithful Concert in the Park attendee.After completing her BA in English at the University of California Santa Barbara, she went on to craft answers for Amazon Alexa devices and write creatively on the side. Fast forward seven years, Caroline is thrilled to return as a Reporter for “The Coronado Times.” Have a story for The Coronado Times to cover? Send news tips or story ideas to: [email protected]

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