‘Son of Saul,” a Holocaust drama from Hungarian director László Nemes, has been named “number one” by British magazine timeout.com on its list of the best 25 movies of 2016. The multiple-award-winning Hungarian film, which in fact was released in 2015 and sensationally won the Academy Award for best foreign language film in 2016, beat American movies such as the Spotlight, the Revenant and the Room to earn the first place.
Less a film than a total-immersion plunge into the darkest horror imaginable, ‘Son of Saul’ follows – in the most literal sense – one Auschwitz inmate, a member of the Sonderkommando whose task it is to assist in the massacre of his fellow Jews. Stark, brutal and totally unforgettable, our number-one pick is vital, devastating filmmaking. (timeout.com)
Set in Auschwitz in 1944, “Son of Saul” tells the story of a Jewish inmate forced to escort his fellow prisoners to the gas chambers and help to dispose of their remains. In October 1944, Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, a group of Jewish prisoners forced to lead other inmates in Auschwitz-Birkenau to their deaths and dispose of their bodies in the crematoriums. One day, Saul finds a young boy and, taking him for his son, tries to arrange for a proper Jewish funeral for him.
The title role is played by Géza Röhrig, a Hungarian poet and observant Jew who now lives in New York. The film’s script was prepared by the author in cooperation with the French writer Clara Royer during the five months he spent in Paris starting from March 2011 on a scholarship. “Son of Saul” is the first Hungarian feature-length film to be nominated for the Oscar prize since 1981, and the first winner since István Szabó’s “Mephisto” took the award in 1981.