The Zone of Interest – Movie Review by Efe Teksoy


Cinema Writer/Film Critic Efe TEKSOY; wrote the drama, war, and history film “THE ZONE OF INTEREST”, for America’s Los Angeles-based Internet Newspaper @alaturkanews.



The Zone of Interest, which premiered at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2023, won 4 awards, including both the Grand Prize and the FIPRESCI Award, and received 5 Oscar nominations at the 96th Academy Awards and won 2 Oscars in the Best International Feature and Best Sound categories. Adapted from the novel by British author Martin Amis, the film was nominated for 3 Golden Globe Awards and 9 BAFTA awards and won 3 BAFTA’s. Additionally, by the National Review Board, It was chosen as one of the five best international films of 2023. This production, whose research and production process took 10 years and was shot in real locations in the Auschwitz camp, heralds director Jonathan Glazer‘s return to cinema after his movie Under the Skin (2013). The production, whose music was composed by Oscar-nominated British artist Mica Levi, tells the story of a Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss and his wife Hedwig strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden beside the camp.

Stars; Christian Friedel, Sandra Hüller, Johann Karthaus, Luis Noah Witte, Nele Ahrensmeier, Lilli Falk, Anastazja Drobniak, Cecylia Pekala, Kalman Wilson, Medusa Knopf, Max Beck and Julia Babiarz.



In the opening sequence, we are greeted by a 4-minute dark screen accompanied by chilling music. Then, accompanied by bird sounds, we see the curtain open to an innocent picnic area. Here, the message is given that two opposites will be explained to us, just like in the Yin and Yang philosophy. At this point, the audience is shown a side where violence became natural during the Nazi Era. Byung-Chul Han, a South Korean-born philosopher and cultural theorist living in Germany, in his book The Topology of Violence, explores in depth the change of violence from the visible to the invisible, from negativity to extreme positivity, and the macro-physical manifestations of violence. Byung-Chul Han; “Symbolic violence is also violence that takes advantage of the automatism of habit. It imposes itself on a series of normalities and hides itself in habitual forms of perception and behavior. Violence also becomes natural.”, He states that it enables the current power relations to continue without the need for any physical, brute force.



Famous political scientist and social theorist Hannah Arendt, one of the greatest philosophers of German philosophy, explains in depth in her book “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil”, how evil becomes ordinary as the ability to think and reason disappears. It deals with Adolf Otto Eichmann, the SS official who was responsible for transferring Jews to concentration camps and ghettos in Nazi Germany and is known as the architect of the Holocaust. Eichmann was just an officer who carried out orders without hesitation, in an emotionless and unconscious manner; “The defendant’s defense is based on the fact that he acted only as an officer, not as a human being, and that there could undoubtedly have been someone else in his place in this duty… He only did what was statistically expected.” explains with words. It is shown that the Nazi officers in the film did all these evils in a cold-blooded and ruthless manner (just as Arendt stated in her work) and that they were just a cog in the wheel. But on the other hand; We see that the character Rudolf Höss and his family live their daily lives like a normal family and ordinarily continue their lives, ignoring all the brutality taking place in the Auschwitz concentration camp in the background. These two extremely contrasting situations in the film present to us the blood-curdling banality of cruelty (just as Arendt describes in her philosophy) accompanied by striking horror. Slovenian philosopher, sociologist, and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek; In his book Violence, he adds to Hannah Arendt’s view. Žižek; “Hannah Arendt was right: these figures were not personifications of sublime Byronic evil; There was a huge gap between their personal lives and the horrors caused by their actions.” he says.



-Director Jonathan Glazer used up to five fixed cameras in the house and garden with no visible crew to capture many scenes so the actors didn’t know if they were being shot in a close-up or wide shot. They were immersed in the scene and enjoyed working in that realistic environment.

-Due to the unconventional multi-camera setup, Glazer and his team had over 800 hours of raw footage at the start of the editing process.

-The youngest son banged on the drums – a satirical reference to Günter Grass’s novel, adapted in the movie The Tin Drum (1979).



The shooting of the drama, history and war movie The Zone of Interest took place in Poland. It is one of the favorite productions of the awards season, with its dramatic structure and powerful cinematography that impresses the audience.





ARENDT. Hannah, Eichmann in Jerusalem A report on the Banality of Evil (Kötülüğün Sıradanlığı: Adolf Eichmann Kudüst’te), Ozge Celik, translate, Istanbul: Metis Yayınları press, 2017

HAN. BYUNG-CHUL, Topology of Violence (Şiddetin Topolojisi), Dilek Zaptçıoğlu, translate, İstanbul: Metis Yayınları press, 2015

ARENDT. Hannah, Eichmann in Jerusalem A report on the Banality of Evil, Penguin Books, 1994

ZIZEK. Slavoj, Violence (Şiddet), Ahmet Ergenç, translate, İstanbul: Encore Yayınları press, 2018



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