Glazer keeps his cameras (wielded by cinematographer Łukasz Żal) back from the action, creating clean, white-walled dioramas where the film’s protagonists live. Rudolf and his family are focused on their small pool and its waterslide. They care about the greenhouse and the flowering plants inside. They care about the garden. Very occasionally, one can hear a shout emanating from the camp, or a scream of terror as ineffable tortures take place, but Rudolf and Hedwig are unconcerned with any kind of terror or moral implications. They want, instead, to ensure their house is clean and that Rudolf’s job is secure. At one point, Hedwig is given a nice, soft fur coat, which she tries on. Later on, she finds a tube of lipstick in the coat’s pocket, which she also tries on. These were not gifts purchased from a department store in town, but belongings stolen from one of Auschwitz’s many victims.
Elsewhere in the film, one of Rudolf’s children hides under his sheets with a flashlight, rifling through his new trinkets: a collection of gold teeth.
Rudolf and Hedwig have no arc, no recognition of their own evil, no redemption. Glazer notes that WWII couldn’t have happened if there wasn’t a massive, dispassionate death machine at work, operated by individuals who just as dispassionately kept it running. Glazer ends his film without any major revelations. Rudolf and Hedwig were only concerned with bourgeois creature comforts, their ability to be recognized by the high command, and assuring their garden could grow. Recall what the garden is fertilized with. For the main characters, sanitization of their personal space is all they need to live clean lives.