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Grey Zone

The Grey Zone

5.0 2
Director: Tim Blake Nelson

Cast: David Arquette, Daniel Benzali, Steve Buscemi

The DVD for this talky Holocaust drama from writer/director Tim Blake Nelson has a 1.85:1 anamorphic image, and, for a lower-budget film, looks quite good. The grim, dark, and hostile images of the Nazi concentration camp come across in vivid detail, so the limited use of bright color is only more jarring when it is introduced. An English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack


The DVD for this talky Holocaust drama from writer/director Tim Blake Nelson has a 1.85:1 anamorphic image, and, for a lower-budget film, looks quite good. The grim, dark, and hostile images of the Nazi concentration camp come across in vivid detail, so the limited use of bright color is only more jarring when it is introduced. An English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack actually packs more punch than would be expected. Surrounds are used liberally, with some very effective sequences. The dialogue is clear and distinguishable throughout the movie, although sound levels do seem somewhat low at times. What is lacking here is a decent number of supplements. Beyond home video previews for this and Eye of God (also directed by Nelson), there are only a handful of deleted scenes with optional commentary from the director. He states here that he decided not to record a commentary for the film, itself, which is unfortunate since this truth-based story really could use more exposition on its origins and impact. While not in the same league as other such films, The Grey Zone does stand on its own, and has a respectable DVD to go along with it.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
The most provocative motion picture of 2002, The Grey Zone, offers a painful, unblinking look at the Holocaust, forcing viewers to ask themselves, How far would I be willing to go to stay alive? That’s the question that faced members of the Sonderkommandos, a group of Jewish prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp during the closing months of World War II. In return for herding their fellow Jews into the gas chambers and disposing of the ashes afterward, these inmates were given a few creature comforts and four extra months to live -- months that might mean survival, with the Allies closing in on the embattled Nazis. The excruciating dilemma faced by these prisoners is made apparent in searing detail by writer-director Tim Blake Nelson (O), who based the script on his own play. Nelson’s exemplary ensemble cast includes David Arquette, Daniel Benzali, Steve Buscemi, and David Chandler as the Sonderkommando leaders; Natasha Lyonne and Mira Sorvino as female prisoners tortured for their role in the sabotage of two crematoriums; and Harvey Keitel as the alcoholic Nazi officer entrusted with overseeing Sonderkommando activities. Nelson offers no easy answers to the primary question. Instead, he focuses on the choices made by doomed prisoners who wrestle with their consciences, knowing that in the end their actions might only forestall death for a little while. Make no mistake, The Grey Zone is a bleak, despairing film devoid of false hope or pat solutions. But it’s also a profoundly moving and thoughtful tale that deserves to be seen.
Barnes & Noble

I have seen a lot of films about the Holocaust, but I have never seen one so immediate, unblinking and painful in its materials. Roger Ebert
All Movie Guide
This wrenching Holocaust film tells the story of the Sonderkommandos, squads of Jews in the death camps who performed the Nazis' dirty work -- presiding over the inmates' extermination, loading the dead into ovens, shoveling the ash of the newly incinerated -- in exchange for a brief reprieve from death. Based on a play of the same name by director Tim Blake Nelson, The Grey Zone is an earnest, if problematic, evocation of the 20th century's darkest moment. Nelson's interrogation of the moral conundrums that his characters face takes the form of a stage-bound script that is too declarative by half. Compounding matters is the too-familiar cast; recognizable faces like David Arquette, Mira Sorvino, and Steve Buscemi are a constant reminder of the movie's artifice. Flawed as it is, The Grey Zone carries undeniable visceral impact. The film offers perhaps the most unflinchingly brutal depiction of the workings of a death camp ever captured in a fiction film. Although some critics have suggested that Nelson's meticulous re-creation somehow trivializes its subject, The Grey Zone never comes across as an exploitative effort. In a way, the movie's unrelenting horror, its aversion to affirmation, and the complete absence of redemption are a testament to its integrity, if not an outright rebuke to recent Holocaust films that, inadvertently or not, have domesticated the tragedy to appeal to mass audiences.
New York Observer
From both a great and a terrible story, Mr. Nelson has made a film that is an undeniably worthy and devastating experience. Rex Reed
USA Today
Nelson ... invests this unusual Holocaust drama with dramatic intensity that in no way cheapens its subject matter. Mike Clark

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Deleted scenes with director's commentary; Cast and crew commentary; 16x9 widescreen; Theatrical trailer; English & Spanish subtitles; 5.1 Dolby Digital

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
David Arquette Hoffman
Daniel Benzali Schlermer
Steve Buscemi Abramowies
David Chandler Rosenthal
Alan Corduner Dr. Nyiszli
Harvey Keitel Muhsfeldt
Natasha Lyonne Rosa
Mira Sorvino Dina
Michael Stuhlbarg Cohen
Lisa Benavides Anja
Brian F. O'Byrne Interrogator
Henry Stram Mengele
Lee Wilkof Man With Watch
Jessica Hecht Man's Wife
Kamelia Grigorova Girl

Technical Credits
Tim Blake Nelson Director,Editor,Producer,Screenwriter
Jeff Danna Score Composer
Pamela Koffler Producer
Avi Lerner Producer
Danny Lerner Producer
Christine Vachon Producer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Number One Crematorium [5:15]
2. Number Three Crematorium [:28]
3. Plumes of Smoke [7:16]
4. Women's Munitions Commando [3:26]
5. The Showers [3:09]
6. Rumor of Rebellion [3:12]
7. Orchestra [3:29]
8. Same Thing [5:58]
9. Execution [5:03]
10. One Louse [4:17]
11. Wife & Daughter [4:38]
12. Interrogation [4:18]
13. Miracle [3:25]
14. Revival [5:11]
15. Simple Questions [1:00]
16. About Escape [3:39]
17. Guarded [4:21]
18. Fully Despised [5:31]
19. Block 11 [5:13]
20. October 7th, 1944 [5:25]
21. Get Out [4:23]
22. Neighbors [3:22]
23. Just Moving [3:27]
24. Credits [4:38]


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The Grey Zone 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film moved me deeply. No, I did not cry but I was shocked and fascinated by this film. I have seen The Pianist (2002), Schindler's List, Swing Kids, Shining Through, Life is Beautiful, Sophie's Choice and Jakob the Liar (1999) but I have never seen a film that so forcefully shows you what life was like for the jews during the second world war. This film shows yet another way that they were victimized and held for naught. It is thrilling to know that some of them were somehow able to rise above the evil and despair that surrounded them constantly. The cast is superb and the script is tight. This film doesn't give you a happy ending but it does leave you determined to be a little kinder to your fellow man.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie touches the base of the soul. It once again reminds those of us who were not there, that future generations should not be allowed to forget what was allowed to happen and continue in that horrific time. The portrayal of the daily, incessant torment and suffering is vivid and the acting outstanding. This is one movie that must be seen, must be shown and must serve as a constant reminder that people are capable of fantastic sadism and cruelty, but also of immense selflessness and conscious in the face of enormous odds.