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"THE GREY ZONE"
(2002) (Allan Corduner, Harvey Keitel) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Extreme Extreme Extreme Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor Mild Minor None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy Moderate Moderate Heavy Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Various WWII era death camp inmates, who've agreed to assist the Nazis in exchange for a few more months of life, attempt an uprising against their captors.
PLOT:
It's the fall of 1944 and various Jewish prisoners at the Nazi death camps have become known as the Sonderkommandos. In exchange for better quarters, slightly better treatment from the guards and a few extra months of life, the likes of Hoffman (DAVID ARQUETTE), Schlermer (DANIEL BENZALI), Abramowics (STEVE BUSCEMI) and Rosenthal (DAVID CHANDLER) persuade new inmates that they're going to be okay before leading them to the gas chambers and then processing their corpses in the massive crematoriums.

Then there's Dr. Nyiszli (ALLAN CORDUNER), a Hungarian physician who's been assigned to do scientific autopsies for Josef Mengele in exchange for even better treatment. Something of a confidant to camp commander Muhsfeldt (HARVEY KEITEL), Nyiszli is hated and mistrusted by his fellow inmates. That's not only due to his actions, but also because they and others, including Dina (MIRA SORVINO) and Rosa (NATASHA LYONNE) who work in a nearby munitions factory, are plotting an uprising that they hope will save others' lives.

As they go about their daily activities and the related moral dilemma, the discovery of a young girl who survived the gas chamber puts their plans in jeopardy. Debating whether to protect her, the inmates do what they can to survive and set their plan into motion.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they're fans of someone in the cast or are interested in WWII era death camp material, it doesn't seem very likely.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong holocaust violence, nudity and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • DAVID ARQUETTE plays an inmate who's in on the planned uprising but also wants to save and protect the young girl. He uses some strong profanity.
  • DANIEL BENZALI plays one of the barracks leaders who's also in on the plan.
  • STEVE BUSCEMI plays a rival barracks leader that the others don't trust. He smokes and uses strong profanity.
  • DAVID CHANDLER plays another inmate who uses strong profanity.
  • ALLAN CORDUNER plays the Hungarian doctor who works for Mengele and gives information to Muhsfeldt in exchange for his family's safety.
  • HARVEY KEITEL plays the harsh camp commandant who manipulates Nyiszli into assisting him and kills or is responsible for the deaths of many inmates.
  • MIRA SORVINO plays a female inmate who's in on the plan, uses strong profanity and won't divulge the plan no matter the consequences to her or others.
  • NATASHA LYONNE plays her inmate friend.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this R-rated drama. Profanity consists of at least 26 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Various nude bodies of camp victims are seen (including female full frontal), but are in no way sexual or erotic in nature.

    Violence includes many people being shot to death execution style, others gassed to death in camp showers, an explosion kills many, one is electrocuted, another smothered, and others are tortured or beaten. Those scenes, others and the overall death camp setting, shots of dead bodies and the crematoriums will likely be quite disturbing and/or suspenseful to viewers. Some of the violence has extremely bloody results.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including the Nazis for their treatment of the prisoners, while there's thematic material involving some inmates assisting them in exchange for a few more months of life. Various characters drink and/or smoke.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • A man asks another man if he's had anything to drink and smells his breath.
  • A man drinks from a bottle.
  • We hear that Muhsfeldt drinks too much.
  • A man appears to be drunk and fires his gun in a hallway.
  • Various prisoners have wine and a character asks for some vodka.
  • A man drinks.
  • Muhsfeldt drinks many shots of liquor and then pours some for Nyiszli.
  • A German drinks from a flask.
  • Muhsfeldt drinks.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a prisoner urinating into a bucket (we hear the sound but don't see anything explicit).
  • Throughout the movie, we see many dead bodies of prisoners.
  • We see various prisoners whose skin is quite yellow.
  • Bodies are taken out into a field and thrown into a fire.
  • We see a lot of blood on a man's face, clothing and the floor around him after he's severely beaten. Hoffman has some blood on his hands from this man.
  • We briefly see the impact wound on a woman's head when she's shot execution style.
  • We see a dead body with what look like scars and holes on/in it.
  • Dina has a bloody lip and marks on her chest.
  • A young teen has some blood from her nose.
  • There's some blood on the floor after a prisoner is shot and killed.
  • We see blood on the ground around people who've been executed and a woman has blood on her face.
  • We see bloody exit wounds of gunfire on a woman's back as she's shot.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The Germans obviously have both for holding and for exterminating the prisoners.
  • Some could see some of the Jews who assist the Germans in exchange for a few extra months of life as having bad attitudes.
  • There's some dissention and dislike among the prisoners of different ethnicities, with one asking if they trust the Jews.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" and "Blood/Gore" may also be disturbing and/or suspenseful to viewers.
  • The same holds true for various scenes inside the crematorium where bodies are seen being pushed on sliding trays into the fires (we also see trucks hauling away ashes and smoke and fire rising from the smokestacks in various scenes, and the gray dust from burned bodies on other people who are still alive). That said, we don't see any burning bodies.
  • A prisoner smothers another older prisoner with a pillow in front of others (to put him out of his misery and against others' wishes).
  • We see men in gas masks dropping poisonous items down into tubes leading into the gas chambers below them and we hear screaming from down below.
  • We see a cart of dead bodies that's piled into a truck and taken to the crematorium.
  • Men walk in a line and then face a wall while kneeling down. A guard then shoots them in the head one by one from behind, while another prisoner is shot dead while trying to escape.
  • After a new prisoner becomes a troublemaker and won't listen to what Hoffman is lying about, Hoffman punches the man and knocks him to the floor. He then repeatedly pummels this man in the face with that man's wife screaming nearby. He then kicks and stomps on the man and a guard then shoots that woman execution style.
  • People are herded into gas chambers and we then hear the screams from them as they're gassed.
  • We see piles of bodies in the gas chamber, and Hoffman then finds one girl who's still alive. He and others then try to smuggle her out so that she's not burned alive. We then hear and see her wheezing and coughing from the gas (we then see a flashback of her and others being gassed but one woman protecting her with her body). Later, they try to hide her as Muhsfeldt arrives and then won't leave. He then shoots and kills a prisoner.
  • We hear sounds of a woman being tortured (her echoing screams).
  • We see a flashback of a prisoner having to place his family into the crematorium.
  • Trying to get Dina and another woman to talk, a German officer shoots one prisoner after another in the back of the head.
  • A guard whips a prisoner and others then grab the guard, struggle with him and then put him onto a crematorium tray and slide him into the fires alive.
  • Guards walk up to various captured prisoners who are lying the ground and shoot and kill them one by one (we see the bodies twitch when they're shot).
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Machine guns/Rifles: Carried and/or used to threaten or kill prisoners. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck does that matter?" "We're f*cking it," "F*ck you," "You f*cking Nazi," "It's my f*cking life," "Don't f*ck this up," "I'll f*cking kill you," "We're f*cked," "F*ck off," "I wish I could slap the sh*t out of her," "I don't give a sh*t about you," "You won't do sh*t," "Idiots" and "Shut up."
  • A prisoner spits in Hoffman's face (for believing him to be lying about what's going to happen next).
  • JUMP SCENES
  • Various scenes where people are suddenly shot might startle some viewers.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A bit of ominous music plays under several scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 26 "f" words, 6 "s" words, 1 slang term using male genitals ("pr*ck"), 1 hell and 4 uses of "G-damn" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see some full frontal nudity of dead bodies in the crematorium.
  • More nude bodies are seen from a distance.
  • We see more nude bodies in a gas chamber, including the side of a teen's bare butt. We also see a view of bare breasts.
  • We see a dead woman's full frontal nudity and then see more.
  • SMOKING
  • Various guards and prisoners smoke during the film, including Hoffman, Abramowics, Rosenthal and Nyiszli.
  • A prisoner comments on having to go Turkey to have a good cigarette.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • A woman screams in terror as her husband is beaten to death in front of her.
  • A prisoner comments that his family was killed.
  • We see a flashback of a prisoner having to place his family into the crematorium.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The concentration camps and crematoriums of WWII.
  • The little known story of the Sonderkommandos.
  • What people will do to survive, even for just a few months.
  • Josef Mengele.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A man pushes the doctor away.
  • A prisoner smothers another older prisoner with a pillow in front of others (to put him out of his misery).
  • We see men in gas masks dropping poisonous items down into tubes leading into the gas chambers below them and we hear screaming from down below.
  • Men walk in a line and then face a wall while kneeling down. A guard then shoots them in the head one by one from behind, while another prisoner is shot dead while trying to escape.
  • After a new prisoner becomes a troublemaker and won't listen to what Hoffman is lying about, Hoffman punches the man and knocks him to the floor. He then repeatedly pummels this man in the face with that man's wife screaming nearby. He then kicks and stomps on the man and a guard then shoots that woman execution style.
  • People are herded into gas chambers and we then hear the screams from them as they're gassed.
  • We see Dina react in pain while being tortured (apparently by electric shocks) during an interrogation.
  • We hear some gunshots off in the distance, but don't know the situation regarding them.
  • We hear sounds of a woman being tortured (her echoing screams).
  • Machine gun fire hits near Abramowics as he runs across the yards. A guard then confronts and talks with him, and then punches him in the head.
  • We hear the sounds of planes dropping bombs in the distance.
  • Muhsfeldt shoots and kills a prisoner.
  • Muhsfeldt grabs Nyiszli by the throat.
  • Trying to get Dina and another woman to talk, a German officer shoots one prisoner after another in the back of their heads.
  • A prisoner grabs a guard so that he'll shoot her in self-defense with his machine gun (he does and she dies).
  • A prisoner purposefully runs into an electrified fence and electrocutes herself.
  • Various large explosions rock the compound.
  • A guard whips a prisoner and others then grab the guard, struggle with him and then put him onto a crematorium tray and slide him into the fires alive.
  • Guards and prisoners fire upon each other with machine guns and rifles, and various people on both sides are hit and wounded or killed. The Germans eventually riddle the barracks with machine gun fire from a large caliber gun.
  • Guards rush in and shoot and kill many prisoners.
  • Some men kill themselves in a large explosion that destroys part of a building.
  • Guards walk up to various captured prisoners who are lying on the ground, and shoot and kill them one by one.
  • A young girl is shot dead (we don't see the impact).



  • Reviewed August 12, 2002 / Posted October 25, 2002

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