Film: The Zone of Interest




The Zone of Interest in Jonathon Glazer’s chilling film is the 25km square of land surrounding the Auschwitz concentration camp in western Poland.

It is here that the camp commandant, Rudolf Hoss, has built the luxurious home surrounded by lush gardens where he lives with his wife Hedwig and their five children.

“The Jews are just over the wall,” Hedwig casually tells her visiting mother-in-law as she proudly shows off the flourishing garden.

You can’t see the Jews but over the wall you can see the smoking chimneys and the manned watch towers in the death camp next door.



There is also a faint soundscape, with screams, gunshots, shouted orders and industrial noise, which forms a constant backdrop to the family’s daily life.

It’s ambient sound like a background radio which the Hoss family and their visiting friends don’t seem to notice as they laugh and play in the garden, and picnic by the river.

Glazer’s film, based on the novel of the same name by Martin Amis, shows ordinary people living their lives unconcerned by horrific events taking place around them.



Hedwig Hoss is living the dream as she revels in her luxurious home staffed by prisoners, and poses happily in a fur coat once owned by a murdered Jewish woman.

The only time she seems upset is when her husband tells her he has been transferred from Auschwitz to another camp closer to Berlin.

His main concern is to continue his upward advancement in Hitler’s bureaucracy by devising more efficient methods of disposing of the thousands of Jewish men, women and children who have been rounded up from all parts of Europe.



The film was shot at Auschwitz, with Rudolf and Hedwig Hoss played by German actors Christian Friedel and Sandra Huller, who has been getting rave reviews for her role as a woman on trial for her husband’s murder in Anatomy of a Fall.

An unsettling electronic score by experimental musician Mica Levi creates a feeling of foreboding after two minutes of darkness at the film’s opening, and again at the end all that remains is the music.

The Zone of Interest, part of the Lotterywest Perth Film Festival, shows at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, January 29, to Sunday, February 4.

Watch the trailer…