The Grey Zone

8 out of 10


An authentic portrayal of life in the Holocaust

Directed and Written by Tim Blake Nelson. Filmed in Bulgaria Starring David Arquette, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Natasha Lyonne, Mira Sorvino

This is a gruesome movie, set entirely at a concentration camp, Auschwitz II in Poland, during WWII.

It is not for the faint of heart - or stomach. It is based on facts supplied by the doctor, an assistant to Joseph Mengele. The Grey in the title refers to the layer of gray dust which covers everything, after the bodies are burned & their ashes recovered, to be discarded in the nearby river.

The Germans use "Special Units" or Kommandos of Jews to help "process" the other Jews passing through the camp. For this they receive better accommodation and rations. However, after about four months they, too, are killed.

One Unit plans a rebellion, bringing in ammunition and weapons from Jews in the convoys and women working at the munitions factory. Unfortunately, there is much infighting between the Polish and Hungarian Jews.

Though too graphic for my tastes, The Grey Zone still delivers what it intended to do. The characters are powerfully portrayed and the aura of futility that permeates the camp is well represented. We are shown the horrors and brutalities of the camp, through torture of the Jews, and their murder by being shot or gassed in the gas chambers.

Part way through, a young girl is found to be alive in the gas chamber although her compatriots are all dead. The doctor revives her, and the Unit members try to hide her. She seems to be a symbol of Hope for the Future, a symbol of Innocence amid the triumphs and tragedies of the Jewish rebels.

A gruesome film not for the faint of heart

Film Critic: Denise Skellington (edited by Erica Cebrowski)