The Zone of Interest Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Even if the name Jonathan Glaser does not evoke any associations in you, you are still almost 100% familiar with his work. After all, it was he who directed the famous video for Virtual Insanity from Jamiroquai, and also collaborated with Radiohead and Blur. The format of exclusively clips turned out to be too cramped for the creator, so he switched to full-length footage. His “Be in My Shoes” and “Birth” are outstanding, very specific films that definitely deserve attention. “Zone of Interest” continues Glaser’s experimental tradition. We’ll tell you in our review how the film turned out.


non-standard direction that works on the ideas of cinema; each scene has its place and is creepy in its own way; the acting perfectly conveys the Nazis’ lack of heart; good horror movie elements; extraordinary technical performance, especially sound and musical accompaniment


some details of the acting and pacing of the story

“Zone of Interest” / The Zone of Interest

Genre biographical drama
director Jonathan Glazer
Starring Sandra Güller, Christian Friedel, Ralf Herfort, Imogen Kogge
Premiere cinemas
Release year 2024
IMDb website

The story of the film centers around the unusual family of the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, Rudolf Hoess (Christian Friedel). He, along with his wife Hedwig (Sandra Güller) and children, are trying to live peacefully in their own expensive estate. They grow flowers, celebrate various holidays and make plans. But they are separated from “Auschwitz” itself by one high wall, so the everyday life of the family is accompanied by the screams of prisoners, shots and other horrors of the Holocaust.

“Zone of Interest” is a difficult, complex, complex film. And in every sense, starting with preparation for filming and ending with the little details of the sound level and individual details of filming locations. It’s very difficult to talk about it, but even this feels natural. After all, creating something of this level was definitely infinitely more difficult.

For example, take the technical performance of cinema. Glaser once again decided not to limit himself, but this time he didn’t limit the cast either. That is why the director used several fixed cameras for filming, which he placed in different parts of the reproduction of the Gjossa estate. All cameras worked simultaneously, and the actors were free to act as they pleased. The director described this approach as “Big Brother in the Nazi house.”

This technique created a special mood for the movie. Even with the acting talents of the local stars, the cinematography itself gives the film the atmosphere of observing something that no one was meant to see. But the viewer seems to be forced to look at the life of an “ordinary”, that is, the most ideological Nazi family.

And the most amazing thing is that, outside the context of everything, life here is really ordinary. Her mother comes to visit Hedwig to rejoice for her daughter, the children play in the yard and relax by the river. But it is the contexts that convey all the desolate, almost supernatural horror of the situation.

Glaser deliberately does not show us the murders, torture and other nuances of everyday life in Auschwitz. But you cannot protect yourself from them even when you are the commandant of a concentration camp. They seep into peaceful life and remind us of themselves.

All the more cynical and vile seem the main characters, who no longer even ignore the deaths of people around them, but use them to their advantage. For example, Hedwig, without any doubt, chooses for herself the things of prisoners who were captured in a concentration camp.

When watching, you may remember the concept of the “banality of evil,” but the film shows us an evil that is not at all banal. Hoess doesn’t just follow orders and try to live his life. He uses the ideology of the Third Reich to his advantage, feels nothing about executing people and burning the remains in the crematorium. For his family, the war became as routine as breakfast or an evening walk. And that makes it even worse.

At the same time, “Zone of Interest” does not lecture you, hardly shows the “other side” and generally tries to remain neutral. But it was precisely this vector of development of the story that allowed it to become even more creepy. After all, the life of the Hess family cannot be called correct or normal. Especially when a little boy plays with the teeth of the dead and makes the comment “don’t do that again” about shooting a person.

Horror is constantly present in the film, but manifests itself mainly in the soundtrack. Constant shots, screams, commands of guards in a concentration camp. The sounds are unfolding as if a completely different film is being created for you by your own imagination. And this is another way that the “Zone of Interest” interacts with your consciousness. One of many ways.

The sound design of the movie is generally on some otherworldly level. Every sound here goes straight into your consciousness, and the general mood makes the film similar to horror. The production as a whole is also reminiscent of horror films. Only the horrors here are quite real and based on historical evidence. It was not in vain that Glaser spent several years studying all the documents and available data about Nazi atrocities at Auschwitz.

The director’s desire for realism is noticeable in everything. For example, the film is technically based on Martin Amis’ book of the same name. But the book contained fictional characters, and Glaser decided to take very real ones. The film additionally acquires reality through its color palette. The team used exclusively natural and practical light.

The film is full of strange, provocative, sad – and almost any scenes. This is the kind of cinema for which there is a genre of “three-hour video essay about an hour and a half film.” Because you can find interesting information about only one history of creation in a series of documentary videos. And the ideas in the script are based on the bloody history of mankind, so they cannot be taken lightly.

How can such a movie be evaluated? Or is it more to criticize? For example, Sandra Güller’s acting is again outstanding here, but she was better in Anatomy of a Fall. And the lack of clear morality in the current difficult times can also be a disadvantage for some. As well as the slightly strange pacing, as well as the almost complete lack of events throughout the entire story. But all this works within the framework of cinema itself as a work of art. Art that is cruel and unprincipled, but so important.

PS Additionally, this film will sparkle with new colors in the context of the war with Russia. Because in many places there are parallels with “ordinary” Russians.


It’s not for nothing that “Zone of Interest” received so many awards and nominations. But none of them are worth all the death and suffering that humanity has endured to end up looking at them from the angle Glaser chose. The director and team understood this very well, so they created an outstanding technically, sincere and creepy movie that remains in the heart. Which should always be there, so that the horrors to which, unfortunately, humanity will continue to be doomed, at least become a lesson for someone.

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