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The Grey Zone

4.0 out of 5 stars 423 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Mira Sorvino. The gripping true story of a group of Jewish prisoners who conspire to destroy the crematoriums at Auschwitz, all the while appearing to be Nazi collaborators. 2002/color/108 min/R.

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The title of Tim Blake Nelson's harrowing drama of Jewish death camp prisoners who rise up against their captors to "destroy the machinery" refers as much to the compromise and cloudy morality of collaboration as to the gray world coated in the smoke and ash of the crematoriums. Inspired by real-life events at the Auschwitz death camp, The Grey Zone stars David Arquette as a soul-deadened laborer whose being fiercely jolts to life when he finds a young girl alive among the gassed corpses. He's the heart and soul of an outstanding cast that includes Steve Buscemi and Daniel Benzali as revolt leaders, Allan Corduner as the shunned camp doctor, and Harvey Keitel as the commandant. Nelson's rapid pacing, intimate shooting, and terse, jagged dialogue give the moral debate a discomforting immediacy as it races a deadline. When doom hangs in the air, sure death creates unique priorities. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

  • Deleted scenes with director commentary

Product Details

  • Actors: David Arquette, Velizar Binev, David Chandler, Michael Stuhlbarg, George Zlatarev
  • Directors: Tim Blake Nelson
  • Writers: Tim Blake Nelson, Miklos Nyiszli
  • Producers: Avi Lerner, Brad Weston, Christine Vachon, Danny Dimbort, Danny Lerner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: January 15, 2004
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (423 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000087EYX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,128 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Grey Zone" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 12, 2003
Format: DVD
THE GREY ZONE is the finest film yet made about the horrors of the Nazi Final Solution for the extermination of the Jews and other undesirables in the concentration/death camps such as Auschwitz and Birkenau. While other movies about the Holocaust may be more accessible to the public at large and thus more apt to win Oscars, THE GREY ZONE is based upon hard facts and tells those facts in the most visually compelling and emotionally devasting manner imaginable. Tim Blake Nelson directed and penned the screenplay based on his own play of the same name which in turn was based on the writings of camp survivor Dr Miklos Nyiszlis. The title is descriptive on many levels: the constant darkness of the atmosphere around Auschwitz from the smoke and ash debris of the crematoriums, the different zones with the camp that designated the various levels of waiting for annhilation, and that zone (grey) between life (white) and death (black) that allowed some of the Jews to elect to be Sonderkommandos - workers who lead their own people to the showers, reassuringly taking their clothes, locking them in the gas chambers, then unloading the bodies onto carts to transport to the crematoriums where they actually had to place the corpses into the ovens and cart away the ashes after the burnings. As the 'desparation of doing anything for survival' makes the indvidual do the incomprehensible, so does this film explore how crushed were the minds of these fated men and women.
Nelson achieves a harrowing sense of reality by uncompromisingly showing all phases of life and death in the camps and he does this so successfully in his choice of terse taut dialogue, quiet voices, lingering images of eyes, and a pacing that seems as formidable as the facts at hand.
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Format: DVD
I am shocked by the negative reviews of this movie. Anyone who thinks "Schindler's List" was a good movie about the Shoah doesn't know anything about the Holocaust. The problem with "Schindler," "Life is Beautiful," and that PBS film from the seventies is that those films all ignore the tensions & conflicts between the inmates themselves. "Treblinka" by Steiner, "This Way for the Gas, Ladies & Gentlemen" by Borowski, "Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land" by Nomberg-Przuytyk, "The Drowned & the Saved" by Levi--and dozens of others--all talk about the plight of the prisoners who became "muslims," and the brutality of the inmates who ran the different housing blocks. A prisoner became a "muslim" once that person became ill, discouraged, starving--and gave up hope. The "muslims" were so named because they would rock back & forth when sitting--similar to Muslims when they prayed (accord to Borowski). Inmates were responsible for the day to day operation of the camps, and there was a clear hierarchy; a strong social structure. In her book, Ms. Nomberg-Przuytyk explains that while it was terrible to get hit by the SS guards, it was much more shocking and demoralizing to be beaten by other inmates. Finally, Primo Levi makes it clear in all his books that the inmates who did the work they were assigned, did not try to shirk or hide from their tasks, ate their regular food rations and did not steal (or "organize") additional food--those people were all dead in six months. Inside the camps, if a prisoner was going to survive, survival had to come at the expense of other inmates. End of story.Read more ›
2 Comments 78 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I knew that "The Grey Zone" was about a sonder-kommando unit at a Nazi concentration camp, which in and of itself would be an intensely dramatic situation. The sonder-dommandos where the Jews at death camps, such as Auschwitz II-Birkenau, who escorted their fellow Jews to die in the gas chambers, then took the bodies to the crematoriums, and disposed of the ashes. For four months the sonder-kommandos carried out their duties, and enjoyed (for lack of a better word), extra food, cigarettes, and even clean sheets. "The Grey Zone" is set in October of 1944, which meant that the end of the war was in site as Allied troops were moving on Germany (this is before the Hitler's last great counter offensive, the Battle of the Bulge), so four months could well mean being alive. Of course, this is if the Nazis do not decide to kill everybody in the camp before it is liberated.
Actually, there are a lot of "ifs" behind this 2001 film, directed by Tim Blake Nelson and adapted from his stage play. If you have a chance to live in a death camp, do you take advantage of that opportunity even if it means collaborating witn the Nazis who are gassing your people? In many other cinematic tales of the Holocaust there is the recurring idea that the sonder-kommando were worst that the Nazis, because they betrayed their own people, and the biggest "if" of all in this film remains what would YOU do if you were in this situation? You can say, "No, I would never do that," but then how many stories about the differences between behavioral intentions and overt behavior do you want me to tell you?
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