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The Grey Zone

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
The Grey Zone
from Film Forum, 08/21/03

The Grey Zone is based on a true story of a suicidal uprising by the "Sonderkommandos," who were Nazi-appointed overseers of concentration camps and helpers at the Auschwitz death camp in October of 1944. The film has not had much promotion, but its reputation is spreading after it found high praise at film festivals. Writer-director Tim Blake Nelson is gaining high praise from some of the nation's most respected mainstream critics for the realism and artful storytelling of his movie.

Dave Wilker (Catholic News) says, "The movie conveys its horrors to fearsomely real effect and in minute detail. As the title implies, the death camps created a moral gray zone. Knowing that not everyone was offered a choice by the Nazis to live or die, the more disturbing question left for the audience to answer is: Faced with that awful choice, what would any of us do and what price would we be willing to pay? Unfortunately, The Grey Zone may be avoided by the general movie-going public for all the reasons that make it so compelling and important."

Marie Asner (The Phantom Tollbooth) writes, "The Grey Zone is thought provoking and numbing to watch. The human mind, it seems, has a near-infinite ability to rationalize events into something it can process without breaking."

Mainstream critics are hailing it as one of the year's best films. Stanley Kauffmann (The New Republic) applauds it as "Ironic, taut, [and] acted and directed with more than persuasive realism."