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How a Domestic Scene Creates Dread in ‘The Zone of Interest’

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This sequence from “The Zone of Interest,” which is nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture, observes a weekday at the home of Rudolf Höss, the commandant of the concentration camp Auschwitz. That home is positioned directly next door to the camp. In the kitchen, Rudolf’s wife, Hedwig, sits and gossips with friends. In another room, Rudolf meets with the engineers of a crematory. But the scene primarily follows Aniela, a young Polish girl who works in the home, preparing a glass of schnapps to celebrate the commandant’s birthday, and delivering boots to him during his meeting.

Discussing the scene, the film’s director, Jonathan Glazer, said that he chose to follow Aniela, rather than the main characters, “because it’s really one of the only times in the film where we can see and connect and spend time with, essentially, a victim of these atrocities.”

He explained that he chose to use multiple cameras to shoot the scene, and the film overall, because “I really didn’t want to have sort of the artificial construction of a conventional film to tell this story. Rather, to view them anthropologically, as if we were a fly on the wall.”

Read the “Zone of Interest” review.

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