The Zone Of Interest - The Banality of Evil

The Zone Of Interest - The Banality of Evil

Written by Zoe Crombie

Depicting ‘evil’ onscreen is a surprisingly tricky business when it comes to real world devastation. Despite Hollywood’s fallback of using Nazis as convenient shorthand for violent, irredeemable monsters, a trope often found in adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Captain America: The First Avenger, these depictions are often a little too comforting, transforming destructive policies and prejudices into an easily defeated monster.

Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt astutely commented on the ‘banality of evil’ in her reports on the trial of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, and nowhere is this idea more effectively portrayed than in Jonathan Glazer’s haunting new film The Zone of Interest. Depicting the daily life of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss along with his wife Hedwig and their five children, Glazer coldly reveals how normality can exist in tandem with brutality, with the charming family home sitting directly next to a site of murder and carnage. A film that was ten years in the making following the release of Glazer’s similarly chilling Under the Skin, it has recently been praised by Stephen Spielberg as the most significant holocaust film since his own Schindler’s List in 1993.

Providing both a fresh look at one of history’s most ruminated upon events as well as a critique of the ways civilians remain complicit in genocide both in the past and today, The Zone of Interest is perhaps the most astute cinematic translation of Arendt’s famous quote, and certainly an awards contender to watch out for. 

The Zone of Interest runs from 1st - 7th March

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