The "Zone of Interest" questions our perception of evil by focusing on the mundane life of a Nazi officer. * Jonathan Glazer's film challenges audiences by refusing to dehumanize its villain.
In a world where cinema often leans on the dramatic and fantastical, Jonathan Glazer's "The Zone of Interest" pivots towards a discomforting reality. This is no ordinary Holocaust film, as it stares unflinchingly into the abyss of evil through the lens of banality.
The film recently captured attention in an article by Jada Yuan for The Washington Post. Rather than adhering to the cinematic norms surrounding Holocaust movies, Glazer, who is Jewish, focuses on the family of Nazi commandant Rudolf Höss. The movie offers an unsettling glimpse into the Höss household, located just adjacent to Auschwitz, leaving audiences to grapple with their preconceptions of evil. As noted by Noah Morse, who is also Jewish, the film "accomplishes the same thing people are critiquing it for, which is depicting the banality of this guy’s lifestyle and the banality of evil."
The narrative's power lies in its straightforwardness, not diluting the bleak realities but forcing the audience to question their understanding of evil. Is evil monstrous, or does it sometimes wear the face of our next-door neighbor? Glazer achieves this through a chillingly anthropological lens. He deploys multiple cameras to capture everyday scenes, without the directorial hand conspicuously guiding our emotions. It's an emotionally detached, yet profoundly disturbing view of how evil manifests in the most ordinary settings.
The film examines the evil inclination, cautioning against underestimating the latent potential for evil within each person. This disquieting idea takes on profound dimensions when linked to the teachings about the arrival of Moshiach (Messiah), an era that promises universal redemption. One could argue that confronting the complexities of evil is integral to the broader redemptive process, catalyzing our collective resolve to usher in a world of pure goodness.
As Glazer himself mentioned, the film isn't designed to offer easy answers or comfort. Rather, it probes the troubling capacity for societal moral abdication. Amid times when moral lines appear increasingly blurred, the film serves as an urgent, albeit unsettling, reminder of what humanity is capable of ignoring.
Thus, the film serves as both a critique and a call to vigilance. It challenges us to reevaluate our definitions of evil, beckoning us toward a more nuanced understanding that could very well be a stepping stone to the universal redemption that Jewish tradition fervently anticipates. And perhaps it's in acknowledging these dark corners of human potential that we inch closer to the light promised in the era of Moshiach.