Female prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp (Auschwitz) are spared from death in return for performing music for their captors.


, (uncredited)


, (autobiography: "The Musicians of Auschwitz")

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Fania Fenelon
Alma Rose
Donna Haley ...
Mady Kaplan ...
Will Lee ...
Frau Schmidt
Marcell Rosenblatt ...


In World War II, the Jewish French musician and cabaret singer Fania Fenelon Goldstein is sent by the Nazis from Paris to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The guards take her clothing and luggage and they cut her hair very short. One day, when she is very weak, she hears someone asking whether any prisoner could sing Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly and she joins the group of musicians that have been spared from the gas chambers to entertain the Nazis performing music for them. She convinces the conductor Alma Rose to invite her friend Marianne, telling that she would be a talented singer. Along the years of abusive treatment, they survive but losing their dignity. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music


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Release Date:

30 September 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Compás de espera  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The real Fania Fenelon was upset over the casting of Vanessa Redgrave due to her support of the Palestine Liberation Organization. See more »


Dr. Josef Mengele is seen seen wearing the famous 1930s-era black SS uniform with the Red swastika arm band. This is very common mistake in many WW2 films. The Black SS uniforms were discontinued at the start of the war in 1939 and replaced by the Green Grey uniforms seen on the other officers throughout the film. See more »


Featured in The 33rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (1981) See more »


Un bel di vedremo
from "Madama Butterfly"
Music by Giacomo Puccini
Lyrics by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
See more »

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User Reviews

An astonishing masterpiece
11 November 2004 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

It is amazing to me that this film is pretty much unavailable in any format.

What a cast. Vanessa Redgrave. Jane Alexander. Marisa Berenson. Verna Bloom. Melanie Mayron. And a subtle and evocative script by none other than Arthur Miller.

A summary of it sounds unpleasant and harrowing and to a certain extent it is. But there is extraordinary beauty in this daring and unusual picture. A group of women, all musicians, are allowed by the Nazis to remain alive on the condition that they amuse their captors with music.

It simply must be seen, and will never be forgotten. See this picture any way you can. I am sure that in time it will be rediscovered and seen for the sublime utterance that it is.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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