search
Inna Rogatchi
War & Humanity Special Project

In the Zone of Non Vanishing Horror: Muted Cry of Jonathan Glazer

Inna Rogatchi (C). Krakow Ghetto. Holocaust Album. 2012.
Inna Rogatchi (C). Krakow Ghetto. Holocaust Album. 2012.

The Shoah Abyss in the Detached Cinematography

The entire The Zone of Interest film by Jonathan Glazer is a muted cry over our people exterminated in the Holocaust by the Nazis and their collaborators. And this is the main point of making it. Very just and timely point to make. 

That Grey Concrete House

That great concrete house has bothered me for over a quarter of a century. I knew about it always, and saw it for the first time in the end of the 1990s when we started to visit Poland, Krakow and Auschwitz regularly for a number of reasons and projects. “And there, there is the house of the Auschwitz commandant Höss, the cursed house’ – our friend and colleague, great Polish cinematographer late Andrzej Jeziorek, the man who got his Oscar for everything non-fiction in The Schindler List, and who contributed at large to the Polish cinema in general and to the Holocaust theme in the world cinema, in particular, has told to my husband and myself on a sunny spring day when we were on our way to film at that embodiment of evil on the earth. 

I filmed there several times and thoroughly. I know the landscape in, our and around. There are two things apart from the Auschwitz camp itself which did and still bother me in that never-to-be-cured place. Those oh-so-normal houses making a couple of villages in a close proximity of the giant fabric of death, and that great concrete house. 

Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höss’ and his family house in Osviencim, Poland. IR  ©. 2000.

I never understood how people could live their own normal life in those houses, which was, still and will be a grotesque and unbearable contrast of good and evil to me. Irrelevantly from a pure geography and forced upon them circumstances. On this planet, there is barely such a thing as a pure geography, and if you are not an eating-sleeping physiological bio-machine, you can get your say and your reaction to the circumstances imposed upon yourself. Not always, but more often than people get comfort to think. 

Since I saw that grey concrete house in the Oswieciem outskirts  for the first time, a bit over a quarter of a century ago, I never understood why on earth it was not erased to the bottom after the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945 and thereafter. 

Now, this ugly and menacing place, very justly so, has become the visual, historical and intellectual focus of cinematographic Holocaust re-visiting by Jonathan Glazer and his talented and devoted team in the rare and largely outstanding The Zone of Interest film ( 2023).  

I am not surprised by Steven Spielberg’s praise for Glazer’s visioning of the Holocaust, in which Spielberg calls The Zone of  Interest ‘the best film on the Holocaust since his own’ .  Being a tough professional, Spielberg certainly understands the necessity of a new language, new angles, and new approach in narrating the horror of the Holocaust eighty years and three generations since it has happened. And Jonathan Glazer, who has an organic cinematographical talent in the way in which he sees the world and creates his narrative about it, has certainly done that. He spoke about non vanishing horror of the Holocaust which was all human-thought, human-produced, human-applied and human-carried on in the detached, decisively and even emphatically understated way of observing the beasts and show them to us in their bloody confiscated villa, that cursed grey concrete house which for inexplicable for me reasons is still staying in a close proximity from the one of the most horrific places on earth, in the heart of the Central Europe, the Auschwitz.

Maybe, that house was waiting for Jonathan Glazer and his brilliant Polish cinematographer  Lukasz Zal to be memorised it in the right way, in the just balance of good and evil. Evil won large, in that case, as we know. So large that addressing that win eighty years later is absolutely, graphically actual. 

Portraying and Playing Human Beasts

In largely unanimous choir of praising the film, The Zone of the Interest  is praised mostly for its sound which is a decent and professional work expected in this kind of initially art-house film, which is also extremely tightly controlled by the director who is more than a director in this deed of cinema, he is the author of the movie in all respects. 

To me, apart of stylish and surgeon-like most of the time directing and script which is truly outstanding and which Jonathan Glazer loosely based on Martin Amis novel which title is perfect and which Glazer took for the film with a full understanding that it just impossible to invent anything better and more precise, the cinematography and the two leading roles are deep human achievements. Human and professional, in this order. 

Lukasz Zal is a great talent, representative of the best tradition of a very rich in that respect the great Polish cinematography school. He has understanding, knowledge, class, style and high-class craft in what he does. We saw it in his works in several  important films : Ida and Cold War by Pawel Pawlikowski, and a well-known Polish -French Loving Vincent.  Zal understands what he is doing as a cinematographer, and what he is doing  it for. How – it is just a professional part. Fine humanity which marks Lukasz Zal’s work in general came to its height in his latest work, The Zone of the Interest because of its challenges to the cinematography part of the movie. 

If in Ida and Cold War, Zal found certain professional comfort in prescribed by black-and-white solution, which makes it a bit easier to depict murky dramas, in Loving Vincent, van Gogh’s universe provided him with unlimited palette of overwhelming colour space, In the Zone of Interest, the cinematographer found himself in the condition in which the unbearable horror to be shown and portrayed literally from an another side, in a paradoxical way which is very slippery and difficult to manage with class and style. A coloured, life-like existence, routine of daily life,  actions and reactions of beasts who, for some reason, are supposed to be human beings. This condition professionally for cinematographer is very demanding because it has a strong disposition for possible overdoing, for a grotesque, a parody, an emphatic contrasting the surreal truth with human norms. But Lukasz Zal, having behind him the great movies he worked at before, and a palpable taste and measurement of Jonathan Glazer who knew precisely what and how he would like to show these beasts to the world, did not go to the trap of adjective-like, forceful cinematography.

His camera is perfect, it is a documentary-based camera following the subjects whoever they might be, mass murders or some insects who might be important to follow for the given project, happy children of a mass murderer who are playing  a gas camera game with their younger siblings – what else?, or beautiful flowers at the flower show, no, not a Chelsea Flower Show, although such a good buds would do for the Chelsea too, but an Oswensiem Gas Flower Show-1942-43, a special contest, you know. Or a happy moment for every female trying on an almost chic  fur coat, no, not in a dressing room, no, not at one’s happy friend, no, not a new fur, so what? Whose fur coat? Does it matter, really? What matters is that it certainly should be cleaned, and that, of course, a part of damaged linen – how was it damaged? Who cares? Should be fixed immediately by those slavic Polish slaves wandering around in that blessed house and having too good a life there, as their mistress is absolutely believes. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Krakow Ghetto. Holocaust Album. 2012.

And all those extraordinarily filmed picnics amidst the lush serenity of the Polish leafy country-side. I always was wondering about that factor for the Nazi machine to choose the places for their extermination camps. There must be something in this , at least as an extra-factor, but I am afraid that it was not an extra, but fully weighted factor for them, to set their camps it in a naturally nice places. To be able to have their picnics there. To be able to ride their beloved horses around. To be able to watch the birds, you know. To relax after working so hard, to be in a good robust form for the next working day. Their next working day. 

To film all this in the way in which the script of the film was done, in the best possible way ever for the film on the Holocaust, one has to have not just a top professionalism, but a high intellect and a deep humanity. And it is exactly what the entire cinematography of The Zone of Interest projected to us. Thank you Lukasz. 

The two leading roles in the film are extremely authentic, and that’s why I’ve mentioned the Glazer’s team as the devoted one. I doubt that I will soon forget the expression of Rudolf Höss’ face in the film immaculately played  by Christian Friedel. 

Christian Friedel in the Rudolf Hoess role, The Zone of Interest. (C) IR

Of course, Friedel’s experience of White Ribbon and 13 Minutes , both great and crucially important films on the nature of Nazism, did contribute to his superb work in the role of Höss. But there is more. Much more. How does one play the beast? In this case, the beast of beasts? The answer is: casually. But it demands not only a filigrane professionalism, but also a deep intellectual understanding of psychological nuances to play it, to perform in this authentically casual  and totally horrifying way. And a giant effort of self-control. I am truly surprised that Christian Friedel was not nominated for Best Actor in the major film awards this year. He absolutely deserves it. He created the character which would be studied not only in the movie schools, but in schools in general. 

And the star of the film is Sandra Huller playing Höss’s oh-so-typical rustic Nazi wife Hedwig outstandingly. Jonathan Glazer in one of his recent interviews said that he does not know who else would be able to do it in the way Sandra did, and he is dead-right about it. The measure of an actor and actress’ talent is the degree of their transformation within a given role. Huller is a very good actress, as we all know. But in the role of Hedwig Höss, a real personality ( who lived a nice life, undisturbed,  until 81, and died in 1989 of natural causes in Washington D.C. , of all places ) , Huller not only achieved a height of the profession. She would be praised for that, justly so. But she did a serious service to humanity, being willing and able to show us the awful inner and  nature of an ordinary German Nazi wife, a beast of its own, a vulgar, low, greedy animal, forgive me, whose only purpose in life is self-satisfaction in all and every way at the level which corresponds to that creature’s horizons. 

Sandra Huller in the Hedwig Hoess role, The Zone of Interest. (C) IR

Sandra Huller is succeeding in not forceful way, not by drama, not even by pedalling in the places where it would be expected, but in unexpected small but essential details, such as a animalistic groan of satisfaction vividly discussing  with her alike visiting maman about new possessions robbed from murdered Jews, or that piggish sounds of intimate foreplay with that husband of hers, or that commoner’s gait, or those gestures of an organically greedy female. Not her husband who provided her everything she lusted of, not even the Reich mattered to this kind of creature, as we know from history, nothing else really mattered to that ordinary Nazi wife, but only her possessions would  it be her children, her roses, her pool, or ‘her’ newly obtained fur coat of the murdered Jewess, or anything else from the Canada department of the Auschwitz.

As it is known, Hedwig did tip to the British Army on the whereabouts and the identity of her husband who was hiding in a disguise of an ordinary Wehrmacht soldier in 1946, buying by this her freedom. Did she deserve to live a long undisturbed life and to die of natural causes? Of course, not. Absolutely not. It was just one of thousands overseen cases after the Second World War. One of tens of thousands, to be correct. Chapeau to Sandra Huller who has created more than a role in a movie. Much more. 

Three more aspects of The Zone of Interest film should be mentioned, in my opinion, before analysing its main, giant achievements: make-up, hair styling and editing.  The first two and the last one are in different categories, obviously, but all three are far above the normal professional standards. In historical films, even if it is a non-binding  allusion based on historical material, the details of personification of personages are utterly important. In possible imperfection, it could ridicule the whole film. In The Zone of Interest, both makeup and especially hair styling are not simply correct, but both are carrying the message, and it is done in a powerful and artistic way. Just one Rudolf Höss’s haircut deserves an Oscar on its own. Because it is a speaking hair-cut, and it speaks all through the film.  

The editing of the film done by Jonathan Glazer’s colleague in his previous Under the Skin film Paul Watts is outstanding. It is a masterful achievement which contributes to the powerful and long-standing effect of the film in large measure. No wonder that Paul Watts was nominated for the Best Editing in more than a half of a dozen top international awards for this film. His editing has made Glazer’s message to be heard in the way as if the director was simply speaking with you on his own. It is a rare harmony of understanding. 

Scripting the Horror , the British Way  

In the only possible and right way, The Zone of Interest, which is the British, American and Polish co-production is performed absolutely justly in German, with small addition of Polish and Yiddish. It is not just richly and authentically European piece of a cinema art, but the way of narrating of it is quite essentially British. And this is a core quality of the film intellectually and in the manner and way of its narrative, in its attitude, both to the events, history, personages and to us, the viewers, to the public world-wide. 

Some of the critics positively compared Glazer’s approach or intention to convey the story of the Auschwitz commandant and his wife and family with classic Theodoro Adorno’s sentence stating that after Auschwitz there should be no poetry. I do not see it this way. Adorno’s statement is fully understandable, it was the natural reaction to unspeakable and incomprehensible mass crimes against humanity. But the way to speak about it, at least something, should be found, because to speak we must, even if in honour of those millions of souls which were brutally destroyed with no reason for that whatsoever.  Importantly, the number of annihilated souls was in reality substantially more than the adopted figure of six million, due to 1,5-2,5 more million victims who were murdered in forests, ravines, and villages and who were not counted by the devilish chancellery of the Reich. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Wreck of Life. Holocaust Album. 2012.

The way of speaking about the unspeakable is utterly individual. Many people cannot imagine any adequate wording about it – but we do have Elie Wiesel’s Night, and Aharon Appelfeld’s dictums from the Abyss. Wiesel himself did not believe that any movie could convey the Holocaust, but we do have several incredible cinematographical memorials to the Shoah made in the best possible way. We have visual references to the Holocaust, and we do have the Shoah music, which in my view probably is the most adequately expressed human emotion on this incomprehensible suffering and still ongoing Shoah trauma which is incurable. 

Still, cinema if done delicately is one of the most powerful genres for expression of both commemoration of the ultimate tragedy and reflection on it. There is no question in my mind that the matter is extremely relevant. If we would not bother ourselves with thinking, speaking and showing the Holocaust any longer, we will risk an ugly psychological transformation of masses of people all over the world into much more mechanistically thinking and feeling creatures, light-head emotional mannequins. 

In a cinema world, there are two poles of portraying the Holocaust, one is the way in which The Son of Saul is done, and the other is in which The Zone of Interest is done. Of course, the perception is a highly individual phenomenon formed by many factors. And The Son of Saul is a very strong and honest film. But to show an incredible pain by inflicting it in a full measure, and more,  from a screen and accelerating it by all possible ways of cinematography is risky and could be psychologically too challenging and thus counter-productive. 

We all have our individual barriers of perception. Each of us can take her or his own level of tough visual material, on a personal psychological and physiological level. That’s why to apply the way that Jonathan Glazer did to the Holocaust-related theme, suggestive, understated, undertone – but screaming, if fact, in all its quietness and drop-off details, is dignified, thoughtful, and smashingly winning in its quiet, but pointedly uncompromising and very articulated way.  

Inna Rogatchi (C). The Message. Holocaust Album. 2012 – 2024.

The script of The Zone of Interest, in my opinion, should be published as a book and to be studied both in the schools and universities world-wide. This is a fantastic script, with those as if non-significant phrases, drop-offs, small details, which all are screaming more and more loudly as the film develops, without any acceleration neither of dialogue, or monologues, or action. This is a superb and very meaningful achievement of Jonathan Glazer, and it shows his attitude to the whole theme the most graphically. As the muted cry which is the highest degree of the expression of a human suffering, so poignantly illustrated by Al Pacino in the famous scene from the Godfather in which his personage sees his daughter shot dead in front of him on the staircase of the Palermo opera house.  

The entire The Zone of Interest film by Jonathan Glazer is a muted cry over our people exterminated in the Holocaust by the Nazis and their collaborators. And this is the main point of making it. Very just and timely point to make, too. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). The Last Page. Holocaust Album. 2012.

I saw and read many scripts in my life. This one is exceptional. It was thought a million times over every word in the way in which Leonard Cohen polished his poetry thousands times over every word for years. It was checked and constructed extremely carefully in every phrase, both in its content and its place. I bet for the Best Adaptation script Award on March 10th, 2024 ( an Oscar gala night), and keep my fingers tight for this award for the film in particular, because it is flawless, and because it conveys the whole attitude of the author, Jonathan Glazer, of what he actually aimed to tell to the world in his film about the Holocaust, after all the myriads of the films on the theme which has been done on it by now. 

Just one episode of the Auschwitz commandant dictating his next order reprimanding some of his staff for damaging a lilac bushes in the extermination camp goes to the annals of the cinema as one of its all-time highest achievements. “The members of the SS who are cutting off lilac branches inaccurately, in the way that makes a bush to bleed, those members will be punished. The lilac bushes here have a purpose of decorating our camp”.  

It is necessary to note here that not a single word in Glazer’s outstanding script for The Zone of Interest was not invented or came from his imagination. The research for the making of the film was a giant effort, with Jonathan Glazer getting to learn German, with a year of thorough work in German archives of all sorts by him and his very good research team, and with a very rich documentary material coming out from that thorough research, in all its monstrosity. 

But also the episodes which are not strictly documentary, but essentially important, such as a going through all the film so cosy bed-time reading to the Hösses’ five children that favourite German Grethel and Hansel fairytale, with such a palpable emphasis on that ‘dear white bird’. Or sickening ,  going  to far the commandant’s love to his horse, his really beloved one. Or that more expected Nazi sentimentality towards a nice little doggy in a frozen Berlin. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). From the Krakow Ghetto Window. Holocaust Album. 2014.

Plus off-hand couple of words every now and then about busy work of the father of the family, or how does he love his work, or how happy he is with it, and how everything is so very good and promising work and career-wise in this just one of hundreds of thousands Nazi and SS officers on their duties during those six years in the 1940s. All those details  set up in the mind of viewers an ultimately chilling picture of the Nazis’ self-perception of what would become known as the cruellest and biggest crime against humanity in the history of mankind, in the way which is undebatable even if some scums would love to go into such debate. This is more than an aesthetic, artistic, or cultural achievement. It is a human deed’s achievement which always means a lot, but today certainly twice so.   

All those half-completed phrases, very masterly constructed, of dialogues, practically any of it throughout the film, indicating and implying more and more horror on a viewer, in a progressing crescendo of that totally terrifying mundanity. It was the purpose of Jonathan Glazer the author of the script, and that work, which is a skeleton of the film, was done simply brilliantly. 

Directing-wise, in my view, the film is not perfect, which is understandable. When a movie begins as and is essentially an art-house in genre and its means, with its core idea and approach as a might nucleus,  then some other aspects might suffer a bit.  

Before the critique, some praise of the direction. The scene of the Nazi leadership’s meeting in Berlin on the forthcoming Operation Höss, meaning accelerated annihilation of the Hungarian Jewry in the path and volume which was unprecedented for the Nazis before 1943,  is directed and filmed brilliantly, with that view above the huge expensive oval table over which the files with the same documentation is dropped for soon-to-be-seated there reps of the all major extermination camps of the Reich all over the Central Europe. Coolly, matter-of-fact handled preparations as for any large enough working meeting of an officials, with naming the camps while dropping the files accurately all around that huge oval table: Auschwitz – shpok, Ravensbruck – shpok, Mauthausen – shpok, Treblinka – shpok, and so far, and so on, all 23 main extermination camps, without their sub-camps. The entire table was filled pretty soon, all efficient, no fuss, no rush. Order. That bloody order which none of us Jews in many generations after the Shoah would forget ever, even subconsciously so. 

And one more very substantial feature of Glazer’s direction of the film. His pointed detachment, his decisive distancing, both in literal way of picturing,  but very importantly, metaphorically as well. Not only does such an approach provide him and us with a cooler view allowing both the director and viewers to control very natural emotions better, not only it dignifies the narrative in a decisive way, but it also allows us to see the cockroaches of the human race and their mean movements in a proper way. This is the way to observe the cockroaches, from a distance.  

Coming with a minor critique, to me, there were too few variations of directing as such, making the director’s solutions a bit too monotone, given the length of the film. I also found the three long entries in the beginning, middle and the end of plain black, red and black screen too simplistic, unnecessarily declarative,  and strangely amateurish, sorry. And I also found the finale of the film undeveloped, half-baked, and strangely and unexpectedly weak.  Which is a great pity because the ending of a film is more important than its beginning, as Mazina’s face in La Strada, best in the world ever ending of Some Like It Hot,  the ending of Casablanca and some other classical samples tells us. 

For that, I have an explanation. I think that the material of the over two hour film – and all the material in general on which the Glazer’s team was working very intensely for at least a year  – was overwhelming for the director who was more than a director for this film, but his main author, and who took upon his shoulders a psychological burden of such size, weight and impact which is not easy to bear. I know it because of my own professional work with similar material, and the work of my colleagues, both historians and film-makers. 

There is the limit of how much each of us could take, bear, and up to which degree we, who deal with the Holocaust in our creative productions, can produce a top-quality outcome professionally, would it be a book, a play, an artworks, or a film. And probably, films are the most demanding of all because of the synthesis of the many separate genres, from literature to music and visuals. It is not a tiredness from the horror. It is to be overwhelmed by it.  And each of us is losing in quality of one or other aspects of our productions because of it, always. 

But somewhat not quite impressive ending of The Zone of Interest in my view does not harm the film in its entirety, as 90% of those almost two and a half hours is intense, modern, sharp and penetrating one’s mind and heart story told in the best possible way just next to the Auschwitz wall, with us seeing all too well the horrific extermination giant plant of death’ chimneys, huge, frightening non-stop clouds of so white smoke out of them, and we are also hearing that barking of those dogs, and off hands remarks: “What did he do? – He was arguing over an apple. – Draw him in the river”. And the machine-gun immediately after that short and matter of fact dialogue, with a couple of last-breath screams which never helped anyone to deal with those humanoids in that uniform whose children and wives, and many of them, as well, were allowed to live long lives after all their crimes. As the entire family of the commandant of Auschwitz were allowed, among many others, to live normally in the US and Australia , where the children of that beast and his completely bestial wife have lived serenely long, long decades.

 Humans or Not Humans

In one of his recent interviews, Jonathan Glazer brought up the matter which has been discussed by anyone who is serious about the Holocaust: humans or not humans they were? There are two schools of thinking on the matter which is the key-one for many. 

My close friend, late Dr Pat Mercer-Hutchens, the theologist and artist who is known for revisiting the infamous The Auschwitz Album and creating over 40 artistic images of her own based on the 289  photographs from there ( the collection of original works after Pat’s death in 2014 is at the permanent art collection of the Liberty University, luckily), hold of an emphatic view that the Nazis were humans and thus, their horrific deeds are yet more terrible. 

Jonathan Glazer is also of the same view, and what he sees  in them human-wise and shows his viewers in his rare on its impact film, is based on this understanding. He said that by dehumanising their victims, which was the core of the Holocaust, the Nazis has ultimately dehumanised themselves,  as the hero of his film, Rudolf Höss, did.  This is a completely valid point of view. 

But as for me, I do not give them the privilege of humanity. After studying and researching the Holocaust meticulously for 30 years, and being a biologist and psychologist by education and scientific practice, specialising on human behaviour and the factors defying it, I just cannot think this way.

The thing with Nazism behaviorally-wise is that people who acted in the way Rudolf Höss and his horrific wife did, have accepted for themselves certain norms which justified their criminal behaviour which was not acceptable for many others in Germany, even under that total brutal dictatorship. Pastor Bonhoeffer had more than one hundred thousand followers in Germany. Those were humans. Nazis were not. They were physiological  humanoids transformed into murderers. First and foremost transformed psychologically. 

Just one phrase of Rudolf Höss at the Nuremberg Trial – where he was giving evidence, in a dizzy zigzag of applied justice – says it all. “ It is true that you are responsible for murder of three million people ( in Auschwitz)? – he was asked while standing on the podium. “No, it is not true. Only for two and a half million, – Höss relied absolutely calmly, as everyone can see on the filmed materials of the Nuremberg Trial. – The remaining half of million died of diseases and under-nutrition”. Only.  I would never ever regard this beast as a human. And he was just one of them. 

I was thinking that this very episode from the Nuremberg Trial with this very statement by real-life Rudolf Höss would be a truly fitting finale for an otherwise extraordinary film by Jonathan Glazer. 

It is Not About Cinematography. It is About an Attitude 

But most importantly, this amazing film, The Zone of Interest, is not about cinematography. It is about the attitude, the willingness of the film’s author and his very able and devoted team to tell the story in the most unusual way, and from the least expected angle, to remind , to show, to make people to think. All this is done by Glazer and his team truly elegantly, in the laconic way, with dignity, in the way which shows unmistakably that we forgot nothing, we remember, we know, we understand, we see, and that we have no illusion for anyone, human or humanoid, who is jolly to raise their beautiful clematises next to the crematorium and who is so eager to rob, rob, rob things of the people who were murdered non-stop, day and night,  in a hundred metres from their cursed confiscated from the Poles villa. 

Jonathan Glazer expressed his hope and wish that if ‘some people’s stomach would churn’ after watching his film, he would think that he has achieved his aim. I know many people who could not speak for a long time after watching The Zone of Interest. I know many people who are of the opinion that the film is haunting and is staying with them for a long while, making them think and return to some of the film’s themes. I know people who believe that the film is ‘an extreme’. I don’t think so.  But I am glad that I watched it not in a cinema hall. For this kind of film, I cannot imagine being in any company. One needs to be protected to the best of one’s psychological comfort to be able to watch those 144 minutes of non-invasive horror, which is all bare true, in as if calm presentation of that ‘family story’. 

The main strength of The Zone of Interest is that carefully constructed by Jonathan Glazer Paradox with a big P, which gets to you as a blow. And I understand what Jonathan meant by that ‘churn of the stomach’ of his viewers. We all got it, absolutely.

Director Jonathan Glazer. (C) Wikipedia.

Glazer said that was asking himself: How does one get into that Abyss? And the Abyss it is. I was thinking so very often about it, and it always came to me that the Holocaust in both its overall dimension and in the myriad of horrific separate episodes of it, is nothing but an Abyss. The Abyss. And if one understands what an Abyss means, one really does not know how to face it in practice, how to get into it and especially, how to get out of it. That’s why there are two approaches to depicting the Shoah in every creative field: either one does it in a very laconic way, also meaning the number of books, paintings or films, or one does not non-stop because one cannot psychologically get out of the Abyss. It is a drama and often a tragedy of its own. 

But additionally to that definite churn on one’s stomach, I know that Glazer’s film gets straight to one’s heart from the first second of it and inflicts the heart’s ache all 144 minutes of the film in a rising motion. It gets to the heart because the mind of a normal person immediately and instinctively, in a powerful self-defence protection impulse, refuses to process what one’s eyes are seeing on the screen. Not because of naked acts of crimes, but because of the extremely powerful echo-effect of all those crimes, intentions, and plans behind it, which all have been brought to the screen of The Zone of the Interest so masterfully and in such a fine, smashingly fine, devastating way.  But because of reality of human suffering.

I think that Jonathan Glazer and his very good British-American-Polish team has made a huge and ever-lasting service to the memory of every victim of the Holocaust, to the Jewish people in general, and to each of us in particular, personally. This is a rare human deed, which demands a huge effort and steadily kept deep, personal, with any showing off, determination. And for all that I personally am deeply grateful to Jonathan. I know that many people are sharing this extremely well-deserved gratitude. 

 

February 2024

About the Author
Inna Rogatchi is author of War & Humanity special project originated in the aftermath of the October 7th, 2023 massacre in Israel. Inna is internationally acclaimed public figure, writer, scholar, artist, art curator and film-maker, the author of widely prized film on Simon Wiesenthal: The Lessons of Survival and other important documentaries on modern history. She is an expert on public diplomacy and was a long-term international affairs adviser for the Members of the European Parliament. She lectures on the topics of international politics and public diplomacy widely. Her professional trade-mark is inter-weave of history, arts, culture and mentality. She is the author of the concept of the Outreach to Humanity cultural and educational projects conducted internationally by The Rogatchi Foundation of which Inna is the co-founder and President. She is also the author of Culture for Humanity concept of The Rogatchi Foundation global initiative that aims to provide psychological comfort to wide audiences by the means of high-class arts and culture in challenging times. Inna is the wife of the world renowned artist Michael Rogatchi. Her family is related to the famous Rose-Mahler musical dynasty. Together with her husband, Inna is a founding member of Music, Art and Memory international cultural educational and commemorative initiative with a multiply projects in several countries. Her professional interests are focused on Jewish heritage, arts and culture, history, Holocaust and post-Holocaust. She is author of several projects on artistic and intellectual studies on various aspect of the Torah and Jewish spiritual heritage. She is twice laureate of the Italian Il Volo di Pegaso Italian National Art, Literature and Music Award, the Patmos Solidarity Award, and the New York Jewish Children's Museum Award for Outstanding Contribution into the Arts and Culture (together with her husband). Inna Rogatchi was the member of the Board of the Finnish National Holocaust Remembrance Association and is member of the International Advisory Board of The Rumbula Memorial Project ( USA). Her art can be seen at Silver Strings: Inna Rogatchi Art site - www.innarogatchiart.com
Related Topics
Related Posts