Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Son of Saul: László Nemes “did not want to make a beautiful film” – Screenrush

Interview with László Nemes, Hungarian director of the drama The Son of Saul, awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, which takes the viewer into the horror of Auschwitz.

The Son of Saul, awarded the Grand Prix at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes, a disciple of Bela Tarr, immerses the viewer in the Auschwitz horror by following the character of Saul Auslander, a member of the Sonderkommando, this group of isolated Jewish prisoners from the rest of the camp and forced to attend the Nazis in their extermination plan. Screenrush met the filmmaker to discuss this ambitious feature film

Screenrush:. The opening sequence plan “Son of Saul” is a piece of bravery. More importantly, it leaves the viewer in a state of sensory and psychological shock, suitable place of the film …

László Nemes : This clip gives rules, not only the environment but also the character. And besides, given the rules of implementation. Also, after a while, this plan has a hypnotic effect. In any case, if one is lucky. This is what I expected.

The blur is one of the great stylistic themes of the film. It helps to show the horror without showing it.

It is part of this filmic strategy. And I knew we could not make a film like any other. The blur is a very interesting idea, but not very cinematic used in the narrative. It creates a lot of things richest in the viewer’s mind. The simplifies clear picture, while blurring richer. The contours are less clear, the viewer is always in a state of imagination. Cinematically, I try to bring the images at the human being, and no more, and his imagination to work.

A clear picture simplify the horror and at the same time its scope.

The goal was also to focus on the human, Saul, represented cleanly, suggesting the horror around him blurred. I do not deny that it was problematic to recreate the horror, but a clear picture of simplifying, and thereby also simplify the range. The blur is a visual reduction to an increase of imagination and emotion.

Especially for a subject like that for a director comes the question of stylization horror. How far will you push the staging of such an atrocity?

This is a very interesting question. Early in the film, with the director of photography, we have established a set of rules in which it was written: “This can not be beautiful.” The Son of Saul is not an iconic film. So much so that I had a hard time choosing a photo of the film to the press. Knowing that it will always reducing any way, what does it take? We did not do nice things for light, for composition, for framing … We do not want to make a beautiful film. We had to stay close to Saul, hence the handheld camera and using a quasi single goal. He had to do it as simple as possible film. Often films about the Holocaust can be esthétisants. We had to be careful not to love ourselves and our images. Hence also the choice of having broken our clips. In this sense, we do not want to “do” the Bela Tarr …

The other stylistic theme of” Son of Saul, “is the sound. Again, you use it to suggest or hypnotise. The scene of the gas chamber is a perfect example …

It took to the rules of the environment. Somehow, in the movie, the sound is also a subjective element. The cries were there all the time. If we had wanted to be “realistic”, the sounds were omnipresent in the film. But this is not possible. The sound thus provides a reference note. No need to show much all the time. On a small note can sound again so that this horror return. But he had to give a reference note in the beginning.

The blur as the sound suggests that you have adopted the maxim “Less is More” (“less = more”) to this film …

“Less is more” , that is precisely what I said during the entire shoot! That was our motto with the team. It is also a call to make films that follow this rule to not fall into the bidding war.

It is also a call to make films that do not fall into the bidding.

This is the second time you say the movie loses his imagination and in fact too. This is actually the fact that you do?

Yes. And it is true that scanning and easy access to digital special effects help to kill the cinema. First, it gives a cinema with an aesthetic created by visual effects directors. Moreover, it is also a strategy of demonstration and bidding. And at some point, I am convinced that we can not keep up emotionally. I met the director Garret Brown (note: the inventor of the Steadicam) for this film, because we thought doing Steadicam. He told me he would have done with pleasure but The Son of Saul was not a film Steadicam. Brown contributed like no mobility cinema and yet he says the visual effects dematerialize the camera. With digital effects, the camera passes through walls, body … And at that time, you lose the physical side of the device. The viewer can not project themselves emotionally. Personally, I want that film remains at the level of the human being.

What are your projects after “The Son of Saul”?

I have a project now, I’m developing in Hungary. This takes place in 1910 but I can not say more now … Simply tell you that this is a film about the end of a civilization. I did not want to do the usual historical dramas. The civilizations that kill, that have a particular interest. For me this is reflected in the past. And I think it’s relevant.

Interview by Thomas Destouches in Cannes May 15, 2015

The Son of Saul Video sample


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