I posted this on another discussion board a few weeks ago, but thought I would recycle it here. There are hundreds of movies made each year which are entertaining, but very few which have any real depth of value. I believe that The Grey Zone is one of those few.
I just watched the movie called The Grey Zone.
It is an extremely well-made movie. Because of that, and because of the subject matter, it is also a very difficult movie to watch.
The movie is based upon true events: the uprising in Auschwitz Birkenau in 1944 of the sonderkommando .
The sonderkommando were Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz that the SS conscripted into servicing the mass extermination of around three million Jews. In return for this, they were given privileges such as decent food, straw mattresses and regular clothing.
Their tasks included stripping the victims while telling them that they were going into a delousing shower before being reunited with their families. In fact, they were going to the gas chambers. Other sonderkommando would clean out the gas chambers and process the bodies, removing gold fillings, feeding the corpses into the furnaces, and dumping the ashes afterwards.
Despite all this, they would only get approximately an additional four months to live. The Nazis regularly executed sonderkommando units in order to prevent anyone living to give evidence of the atrocities. Despite this, some sonderkommando did survive when the Russians liberated Poland.
Only once did the sonderkommando rebel, in 1944, destroying one of the four crematoria. But the uprising was quickly put down. The destroyed crematorium, however, was never rebuilt.
The Grey Zone tells the story of the uprising, based upon a Jewish doctor's eyewitness memories. It is a very realistic protrayal of Auschwitz, not shying away from the realities of what happened there. Some scenes are quite simply harrowing, showing the gas chambers and crematoria in action, the mass executions of prisoners by simply lining them up and shooting them in the back of the head, and the torture of victims. Some scenes make the bile rise without any violence: the sonderkommando orchestra playing an upbeat waltz to calm the thousands of men, women and children lining up for the "shower"; the elderly man forced to push his own wife, daughter and grandchildren into the furnaces.
I can't recommend the movie, it's simply not the kind of movie about which you can say "great movie! You must see it!" It's stark and disturbing.
But, if you are feeling emotionally strong, The Grey Zone will provide you with a strong lesson in why we must never forget history, and why free nations must always stand up to psychopathic dictators.