The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss, and his wife Hedwig, strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to Auschwitz.Newly arrived at his post, Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel) is mild-mannered and industrious. He works hard to provide for his family: five children and wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller), who is setting up their new house, managing the staff and servants. The children play games. In the background, over their fence, black smoke ascends and there is an omnipresent aural cacophony.
Historical atrocities have been examined on the screen innumerable times but not like this. The filmmaking gaze is calm, the natural beauty of the Polish countryside captured directly without artificial lighting. Yet, as in filmmaker Jonathan Glazer’s previous film Under the Skin (2013) - which we will also be screening - there is something unsettling, even alien, in what we see.
With a fascinating cinematographic setup in which cameras were placed around the labyrinthine house to capture each room’s activities without the director’s physical presence, like a security camera system. With regular Glazer collaborator Mica Levi’s stirring, other-worldly score, the film is as much an ambient experience as a narrative piece of cinema.
Loosely based on the book by Martin Amis, this Cannes Grand Prix-winner depicts a heinous chapter of history but is ultimately about compartmentalisation, probing how life can be lived with such horror just a hair’s breadth out of sight.
We'll also be screening Jonathan Glazer's (English spoken) previous masterwork Under the Skin (2013).