'Son of Saul' director seeks roots of 20th century downfall in new film

The 75th Venice International Film Festival - Screening of the film "Napszallta" (Sunset) competing in the Venezia 75 section/out of competition - Red Carpet Arrivals - Venice, Italy, September 3, 2018 - Director Laszlo Nemes with cast members Juli Jakab and Vlad Ivanov. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - “Son of Saul” won an Oscar for its realist portrayal of life in a Nazi concentration camp. In his new film, writer-director Laszlo Nemes winds the clock back to look at how Europe let itself slide into an earlier abyss: World War One.

“Sunset”, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Monday, follows a young woman in 1913 Budapest, on the eve of the war the shattered the illusion of endless European progress.

“When I made ‘Son of Saul’, I really wanted to go back in time to try to understand the mystery that took place in a few years, probably at the beginning of the 20th century: how a sophisticated civilization fell into self-destruction, how it went from an era of progress and unbound trust in technology to industrial murder,” Nemes told a news conference.

“I wanted to interrogate myself of the birth of the 20th century,” the 41-year-old Hungarian added, saying that’s what his period drama “Sunset” is about.

It is one of 21 movies vying for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival which will be awarded on Sept 8.

Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Andrew Heavens