A decade passed before Jonathan Glazer’s much-anticipated sequel to “Under the Skin” was released, but during that time he was able to scour human history for an even more unsettling tale. In the highly acclaimed Holocaust drama “The Zone of Interest,” directed by Glazer, the action centres on the private affairs of Rudolf Höss, the leader of Auschwitz, and his wife Hedwig as they establish a life for themselves in a home that is adjacent to the notorious camp. Similar to Glazer’s earlier films, the filmmaker uses his renowned steely stare to evoke terror from even the most routine actions. Although Glazer’s unique approach is evident in the picture, it was only possible because of years of painstaking research.
In a recent conversation, Glazer discussed the film’s protracted production process with Rolling Stone. The director disclosed that visiting the actual Höss residence at Auschwitz in Germany was one of the most difficult parts of the procedure. “I visited the house and the garden, which is not exactly like it was then. But it still exists. And being there, in that space — what struck me was the proximity of it to the camp. The house shared a wall with Auschwitz. It was all happening right there, on the other side of that wall. And the fact that a man lived there, and brought up his family there…” Glazer said. “How do you do that? How black a soul must be.”
The curator of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Piotr Cywiński, invited the director to visit Auschwitz, as Glazer remembered speaking with him. Even though Glazer acknowledges that he was terrified to go to the location of such ancient horrors, he believes the journey served as the inspiration for the movie. “He actually said to me: ‘Why are you doing this? Why do you want to do this?!’” he said. “I told him, ‘I have no idea. That’s why I am here.’ He advised me to go to Auschwitz, which… I’ll be honest, I had always been afraid of going there. But [Piotr] told me: ‘Go and listen. If you listen, one way or the other, you’ll find out.’”