7.1/10
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The Grey Zone (2001)

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A Nazi doctor, along with the Sonderkommando, Jews who are forced to work in the crematoria of Auschwitz against their fellow Jews, find themselves in a moral grey zone.

Director:

Tim Blake Nelson

Writers:

Miklos Nyiszli (based in part on "Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account") (as Dr. Miklos Nyiszli), Tim Blake Nelson (play) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Arquette ... Hoffman
Velizar Binev ... Moll
David Chandler David Chandler ... Max Rosenthal
Michael Stuhlbarg ... Cohen
George Zlatarev George Zlatarev ... Lowy (as Georgy Zlatarev)
Dimitar Ivanov Dimitar Ivanov ... Old Man
Daniel Benzali ... Simon Schlermer
Allan Corduner ... Dr. Miklos Nyiszli
Steve Buscemi ... 'Hesch' Abramowics
Harvey Keitel ... SS-Oberscharführer Erich Mußfeldt
Henry Stram Henry Stram ... SS-Hauptsturmführer Josef Mengele
Kamelia Grigorova Kamelia Grigorova ... Girl
Lisa Benavides-Nelson Lisa Benavides-Nelson ... Anja (as Lisa Benavides)
Shirly Brener ... Inmate
Mira Sorvino ... Dina
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Storyline

The true story of Dr. Miklos Nyiszli, a Hungarian Jew chosen by Josef Mengele to be the head pathologist at Auschwitz. Nyiszli was one of Auschwitz's Sonderkommandos - Special Squads of Jewish prisoners placed by the Nazis in the excruciating moral dilemma of helping to exterminate fellow Jews in exchange for a few more months of life. Together, the Sonderkommandos struggled to organize the only armed revolt that would ever take place at Auschwitz. As the rebellion is about to commence, a group from the unit discovers a 14-year-old girl who has miraculously survived a gassing. A catalyst for their desperate attempt at personal redemption, the men become obsessed with saving this one child, even if doing so endangers the uprising which could save thousands. To what terrible lengths are we willing to go to save our own lives, and what in turn would we sacrifice to save the lives of others? Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Story You Haven't Seen

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong holocaust violence, nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Lions Gate Entertainment

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

30 November 2001 (Spain) See more »

Also Known As:

A szürke zóna See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,526, 20 October 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$517,872, 22 December 2002
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film's title is inspired by the second chapter of the essay collection "The Drowned and the Saved" by Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, first published in 1986. The second chapter is called "The Gray" (spelling correct) and deals in an analytical way with the subject of the "Sonderkommandos". Since Levi was never part of a "Sonderkommando" in Auschwitz, and never met one, his knowledge was mostly based on the critical description of Miklos Nyiszli in "Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account". That book is the main historical source of The Grey Zone (2001), too. See more »

Goofs

The movie mentions the rebellion taking place in 'Number One' and 'Number Three' Crematorium in Birkenau. In reality these crematoria were numbered 2 and 4 (the number 1 crematorium was in the main camp Auschwitz 1). The unit working in Crematorium 2 was known as Kommando 1, however. See more »

Quotes

SS-Oberscharfuhrer Eric Muhsfeldt: I feel sorry for the world if we don't win the war.
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Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

The Grey Zone End Credit Music
Written by Jeff Danna
Performed by Jeff Danna
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Incredible film
2 November 2002 | by bri-80See all my reviews

I've seen this film twice. The first time it was such a shocking,

horrifying spectacle I vowed to never see it again. It is absolutely

among the most graphic, violent films ever made, save slasher/horror films. I saw it again to see what was buried

underneath the gore. It was surprising. As a historical document

alone The Grey Zone is unique and impressive. Countless small

details contribute to its originality: the blue-green color of the

Zyklon B crystals, the sprinklers constantly working the lawn

beside the crematoria, the clear, pretty daylight when the trains

arrive, the intimate building-to-building geography of Birkenau --

only the film Shoah manages to make these small historical

details count so much. What's left to be said about the Holocaust?

These things. Small things. Details. The grass, the sound ovens

make, sunlight hitting brick. Shoes. Luggage.

The Grey Zone is so unique that it has been misinterpreted. There

is virtually no music, nothing to tell you how to feel. It is exactly the

opposite of melodrama. The mundane repetition of the killings

actually numbs you after awhile, and this is intentional since this is

how the main characters are affected. There is no uplifting

message, and no cliched Zionist coda like Schindler's List

suggesting that all the suffering had a destination and a design.

There are some awkward elements in the film. But these are

minor next to the clarity of purpose and originality. The Grey Zone

should not become marginalized in the canon of Holocaust art

because it refuses to be sentimental. Hopefully it will be

referenced and reviewed for a long time.


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