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The Zone Of Interest – Jonathan Glazer (2023)

We see a family at a riverside. When they leave in two cars, it is clear that this is not your average, German family. In the next scenes, we follow the family in their busy home. Lots of personnel and many children. The family has a nice house and the lady of the house built a little paradise of a garden with a part for the children (with pool), a vegetable garden with greenhouses, places to sit, etc.

The man of the house does not have to travel far for work. Out of the garden and into the gates of the concentration camp Auschwitz that Rudolf Höss helped to build and which he manages. The house and the garden of the Höss family borders immediately to an outer wall of the camp.

Glazer mostly shows the daily life of the Höss family. Raising children, tending the garden, receiving family, but also receiving Rudolf’s colleagues and subordinates for business meetings. In the background you constantly hear the low rumbling of the ovens and every so often a guard shouting to a prisoner, gunfire, etc. The family seems to have grown used to these sounds (and the smell?) and live their quiet lives outside the wall enjoying the sun and the river that flows nearby.

Höss is portrayed as a man good as his job. He makes the institute ever more efficient and even though he makes long hours, he finds time to spend with his children, in the garden or in nature and to read a book. In spite of him doing a great job, Höss is told that he will be transferred. His wife goes far in order to be able to stay in her paradise.

There are a few scenes outside of the Höss house, first at Rudolf’s offices and later at a meeting of camp managers.

It is mostly what you do not see that makes this film a fairly hard watch. Everybody knows what is going on in the camp, but that is good for the country, is it not? The Höss family is just doing their part and we are watching them do just that.

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