Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“Zone of Interest”: Evil is never trivial. This movie will keep viewers on the edge of their seats!

IN “Zone of interests” Auschwitz is talked about without showing the place of execution almost at all. The center of the action is the house located just outside its walls, inhabited by Commander Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel) with family. The viewer observes the everyday life of a high-ranking SS officer, his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller) and a group of children cared for by a team of nannies and housekeepers.

It is a bright garden filled with flowers carefully planted by Hedwig, a garden where toddlers play, a swimming pool around which banquets for friends are organized, and cozy children’s rooms with pastel furniture. And only the glow of the fire, unbearably bright even in the middle of the night, visible from behind the tightly drawn curtains in the house, reminds us what is just beyond the wall. This is a reality that Hedwig desperately wants to distance herself from. “There are Jews behind the wall,” Hedwig tells her mother during the visit, as if she were complaining about her neighbors being too party-like – an inconvenience, a bit of a problem, but I can live with it. “We planted ivy hoping it would grow and cover them,” he explains.

“Zone of interests” it’s the first movie in a decade Jonathan Glazera Briton with Jewish roots, known for such titles as, among others, “Sexy Beast” (2000), “Birth” (2004), and above all, visionary “Under the skin” That Scarlett Johansson (2013). The creator uses his own unique solutions. Clean, carefully composed, ascetic frames and long shots are a masterpiece Łukasz Żalan excellent Polish cinematographer, creator of photos, among others “Ida”.

The film is a Polish co-production – the role of producer was played by a person well known in Cannes for, among others, “Cold War” titled Ewa Puszczyńska, and there were more Poles among the team – including: set designers Joanna Kuś and Katarzyna Sikora and costume designer Małgorzata Karpiuk.

As in Glazer’s earlier paintings, the sound is also extremely suggestive. The sound of the space in which the characters move has been carefully recorded; no fly, bee or rustle of grass will escape the microphone. At the same time, the music of Mica Levi, a non-binary composer, nominated for an Oscar, among others, for the music for the film, is very impressive Pablo Larraín “Jackie”. Similar to “Under the skin” next to the disturbing sounds of an accompaniment, pulsating, hollow beats will appear in the audiosphere, as if out of this world. In the film with Johansson, this was justified by the origin of the alien heroine. Here, perhaps, they signal the darkness of the world of spirits stretching just beyond the fence, under which Höss sets fire to every day with professional enthusiasm.

In today’s world, so tired of direct depictions of violence, it is very difficult to find language that will move the viewer. Especially when it comes to a topic that has been repeatedly processed and reinterpreted by culture, such as death in the camps. As viewers, we understand the importance of this drama, we know it was a nightmare, but at the same time we have seen so many films and series about it that it is very difficult to react equally strongly every time.

Here we have a complete removal of the images of the camp drama, enclosing what is unimaginable and final in the symbolic images of thick smoke from the chimney into an unstoppable and omnipresent wave of screams breaking through the plants tended by Mrs. Höss in the home garden. Juxtaposing this with the orderly, even idyllic existence of the Hösses, fully aware of the machine in which they are cogs, and yet focused primarily on their well-being, treating the drama taking place just outside the fence as a job that can put food on the table , a good house or a promotion. This is a hair-raising way to talk about the Holocaust. Because if this nightmare can be rationalized, then I guess everything, every evil, can be rationalized.

Glazer managed to make a film that breaks the numbness and reminds us that evil is never trivial. That evil has a face, that it can grow on any ground. It is an artistically sublime, conscious in every detail and well-constructed, but above all a piercing film that gradually pushes the viewer even harder into the seat. And although this embrace of the image is uncomfortable, although it hurts, you want to endure it – until the end.


“Zone of interests” (The Zone of Interest), dir. Jonathan Glazer, Great Britain, USA, Poland 2023, distributor: Gutek Film, cinema premiere: March 8, 2024.