The Grey Zone (2001) Tim Blake Nelson
Production Budget: $5 million
I really only gave this film a chance because Roger Ebert put it in his Great Movies section. The movie is about the Sonderkommando: a group of Jews in Auschwicz picked out to assist the Nazi’s in execution and cleanup in exchange for a few more months of life. The longest any of these groups last is about 4 months. A plot is devised though to destroy a few of the crematoria of the camp to slow the killing down.
The reason Ebert pointed this film out above other Holocaust films is the moral ambiguity and the bleak tone of the movie. Movies, even say Schindler’s List, try to leave the viewer with something to be a little uplifting. Grey Zone simply and flatly tells us there is nothing to feel good about this. There is also the question of morality and whether the Sonderkommando should have been complicit.
The direction by first time director Nelson is very good 9and it is based on his play). Even though we have such a large cast of characters, we get to know them and understand their actions. The acting, even from former WCW Heavyweight Champion David Arquette, is quite good. I actually do prefer Grey Zone to another movie of the same theme of The Counterfeiters (a movie which was nominated for Best Foreign Picture).
This is a very good movie. That being said, this is another Holocaust movie in a very congested genre. People are tired of the subject. Hell, even I had problems watching it. It’s hard to pop in a 2 hour movie that is intended to be the most depressing Holocaust movie ever made. So when it comes to a recommendation I guess it kind of depends. If you are interested in the subject then by all means; this is a great movie. But to everyone else, it is extremely hard for me to say you have to watch this movie.