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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Son of Saul

Where Are the Women? Son of Saul

Women are almost entirely absent from this film. But that’s okay, since it is mostly set within a plausible all-male environment.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: 0

0
Does the film take place in a primarily all-male environment (ie, prison, historical military)? [why this matters]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of women in authority]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: 0

[no issues]

WILDCARD SCORE: 0

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

No.

TOTAL SCORE: 0

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes, one of two credited (Clara Royer) (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: Women are almost entirely absent from this film. We glimpse anonymous, terrified women in the concentration camp “showers,” and we glimpse female prisoners during a brief foray to the women’s side of the camp where this story is set, but not even a single female character figures into the story in any way at all. But this is okay, since the story is mostly set within a plausible all-male environment.


Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

Click here for the ranking of 2015’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Son of Saul! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Son of Saul.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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where are the women
  • Yes, they are absent. Just like children. Not only from the film but also from Jewish families… Just think about it…

  • Please make your point.

  • I mean it is not by accident, it is by purpose, that Nemes does not show women and children in his film. But we can hear them crying and we can see a breast of a dead mother. It is so strong – stronger then show alive women and children. We come out of the movie and feel sick. We do miss them. It is an artistic language of Nemes – I think he really wants to make us feel this enormous absence and this uncertainty – what could happen to them? Where are they?! It does hurt, i went totally crazy. This is how it can be in real jewish families. Missing loved family members. Does it have a meaning for you?

  • WATW is not about whatever meaning a film has for me. It’s about whether and how women are represented onscreen. That’s it. Of course it’s on purpose that there are no women onscreen. This is often the case.

    stronger then show alive women and children

    And this is a frequent problem when it comes to male-dominated filmmaking: women are more useful to the stories they want to tell when women are absent or dead. And as I’ve said in reference to WATW many times before, it’s not a particular problem that any single given film omits women or sees them as more thematically useful if they are dead or absent: it’s a problem that *so damn many* movies do.

    So I’m not picking on this movie in particular — indeed, it gets a neutral zero score. Still:

    This is how it can be in real jewish families. Missing loved family members.

    As I’m sure you know, there are stories to be told about women who lost husbands and brothers and lovers in the Holocaust. Where are their stories onscreen?

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Yes, I know those stories, too. I hope one day someone will make a movie about those lost ones, too. But this film is actually puts in the center this dead boy, too. He is a lost boy of a mother – and I think it is extremely strong to miss that family and that mother and that personal history behind this boy…. Who was he? We know nothing about him… We know that someone is crying for him, too. A mother. A father. A brother.

  • Danielm80

    As she said near the top of the page:

    NOTE: This is not a “review” of Son of Saul! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.)

    Have you read her review of the film?

  • No, I would love to read it. Could you pl give me a link? thank you.

  • Jurgan

    It is linked on this page. “Read my review of Son of Saul.”

  • Danielm80

    It’s odd that you’ve spent so much time on this page and read so little of it. MaryAnn responded to most of your objections before you even made them. Here’s a link to the review:

    http://www.flickfilosopher.com/2016/02/son-of-saul-movie-review-how-to-remain-human.html

  • No, really, sorry, i have read it of course. I have just read a lot recently about Son of Saul – didn’t remember immediately. Sorry. Thanks anyway.

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