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How Holocaust drama The Zone of Interest has a link to Big Brother

christian friedel, the zone of interest
How Big Brother inspired The Zone of InterestA24

The Zone of Interest director Jonathan Glazer has explained how Big Brother has inspired the Holocaust film.

The film focuses on the Auschwitz concentration camp's commandant Rudolf Höss and his family, who all live next door in a pristinely-maintained large house and go about their lives as if nothing was happening.

Glazer wanted to get across this unsettling scenario with natural lighting and fly-on-the-wall style filmmaking with 10 remotely operated cameras, inspired by the infamous reality show.

"The phrase I kept using was 'Big Brother in the Nazi house'," the director told the BBC.

the zone of interest
A24

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"The idea of eavesdropping felt like the way to show the drama – although there is no drama. It was a way of being in the house with them.

"[Techniques] where you get caught up in the actor and close-ups... they were the wrong thing for this."

While the horrors of the Holocaust aren't shown, they are always present. While his wife gossips with her friends and is rude to the house staff, Höss discusses more efficient ways of mass killing in another room.

Meanwhile, the muffled sounds of machinery, gunshots and screams from over the wall are heard constantly throughout.

"We viewed the project as two films: one you see, akin to a family drama or Big Brother, and one you only hear, coming from over the wall – the real narrative," sound designer Johnnie Burn added.

christian friedel, the zone of interest
A24

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The film may be incredibly shocking, but it has been highly praised for its unflinching portrayal of how people can do evil things while carrying on with their everyday lives.

It is currently up for five Oscars and nine BAFTA Film Awards, and won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Zone of Interest is scheduled to be released in the UK on February 2.


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