The Grey Zone


The Grey Zone

Critics Consensus

A grim and devastating tale of the Holocaust.



Total Count: 85


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,764
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Movie Info

The story of five prisoners in the Auschwitz concentration camp as told through the memoirs of Dr. Miklos Nyiszil, a Hungarian Jew chosen by Josef Mengele to be the head pathologist at Auschwitz.


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Critic Reviews for The Grey Zone

All Critics (85) | Top Critics (28) | Fresh (59) | Rotten (26)

  • Even in its darkest moments, a heartening defiance underlies gut-wrenching calamity.

    Nov 15, 2002 | Rating: B+
  • The Grey Zone isn't for everyone, but its riveting power constitutes a stunning (as in it leaves you shattered and shaken) achievement.

    Nov 8, 2002 | Rating: B+
  • [Nelson's] movie about morally compromised figures leaves viewers feeling compromised, unable to find their way out of the fog and the ashes.

    Nov 7, 2002 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • Like the Ancient Mariner, Nelson grabs us by the collar and says, You must know about this. You must bear witness. And so you do.

    Nov 7, 2002 | Rating: A-
  • Jagged, unrelenting, claustrophobically intimate.

    Oct 25, 2002
  • Although the movie takes us further into the actual process of industrial death at Auschwitz than any American movie has yet dared, The Grey Zone never stoops to sensation or melodrama.

    Oct 25, 2002 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Grey Zone

  • Sep 27, 2014
    Bleak, sorrowful, and visceral in its depictions, The Grey Zone is a holocaust film that seeks to transport you to the minute-by-minute tragedies of the Nazi concentration camp. The film follows a group of prisons in an Auschwitz camp who, by their efforts to help with the body disposal, are given special privileges, leaving them feeling guilty. An opportunity for defiance finds the group, as they plot to destroy the dreaded incinerators. The film is unique from the standpoint that it is told in an almost clinical way, with fast dialogue, quick action, and no real time for pondering. It's almost reminiscent of a Steven Soderbergh film with its heightened sense of realism. This helps to distinguish itself from what some might consider 'misery porn', and forces the viewer to confront the realities of what is unfolding much in the way that the victims themselves had to, where the luxuries of after the fact pondering don't exist. This is bolstered by good overall performances, and crisp direction which keeps the film immersive. The problem, however, is that the film's clinical nature gave way to a sort of emotional disconnect. There is no one to really identify with, and the moments of horror are so fast as to have an almost blunted feel. Thus, the film never fully achieves the resonance that it wants, lacking a real emotional core. An overall strong, and uniquely conceived film 3.5/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Dec 03, 2012
    I'm sorry, but I have a real hard time watching movies that are based in other countries, and the people do not even have accents. The guards did, but not the prisoners. It was as if they all were American prisoners. I have seen soooo many outstanding Holocaust films. This one not included...
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer
  • Mar 01, 2012
    Based on a play based on a book, this is Tim Blake Nelson's harrowing look at the innerworkings of moral issues within a concentration camp. The story is focused on a group of Hungarian Jews in Auschwitz who are tasked with cleaning out the ashes of their dead comrades from the crematoriums. When they realize they are next on the list to die, they decided to have an uprising. This is some very hard stuff to watch, but it is also phenomenally amazing. It finds the right note between exploitative and overly emotional sentimentality, and despite being something hard to watch, it's also very hard to look away. The films boasts a talented cast who all give some really good performances. Well, okay, Keitel's accent is a bit iffy, but he's great at being a really cruel antagonist. David Arquette is surprisingly really good in a dramatic lead role, and it's nice seeing him step away from comedy once in a while. Other supporting roles are filled by the likes of Natasha Lyonne, Mira Sorvino, and Steve Buscemi among others. It's up there with Schindler's List and The Pianist as some of the best films about the Holocaust, and the direction is hauntingly effective. This isn't an uplifting film as you might have guessed, but it does really give you a lot to think about, mostly because of the issues it raises. Give this one a watch. It's something quite special.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 24, 2010
    In my opinion one of the worst films on the Holocaust. The story of the Jews "that fought back" is ridiculous and lacks the gravity that a story of this type deserves.
    John B Super Reviewer

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