One of the most vivid depictions of the horrors of Nazi Concentration Camps. Filmed in 1955 at several concentration camps in Poland, the film combines new color and black and white footage with black and white newsreels, footage shot by the victorious allies, and stills, to tell the story not only of the camps, but to portray the horror of man's brutal inhumanity.
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Did You Know?
found the project immensely distressing to work on, given the fact that he had been a concentration camp inmate. How he got round it was not to provide text, segment by segment, to Alain Resnais
who would normally have edited the images around it. Instead, Cayrol wrote an initial text based on his recollections of Resnais' first cut. Resnais' assistant Chris Marker
then reordered the script to match the sequence of shots and returned the restructured script to Cayrol who then rewrote the script. See more
In the film a popular myth about the Third Reich is presented as fact: The claim that the body fat of prisoners in extermination camps was used to produce soap.
Though evidence does exist of small-scale soap production, possibly experimental, in the camp at Stutthof concentration camp near Danzig/Gdansk, mainstream scholars of the Holocaust consider the idea that the Nazis manufactured soap on an industrial scale to be part of World War II folklore. See more
"I am not responsible", says the kapo. "I am not responsible", says the officer. "I am not responsible". Who is responsible then?
Before its original release, there was a still of a French gendarme (policeman) watching a roundup at Pithiviers. He is easily recognizable by the characteristic French "kepi." Wanting to deny complicity, French censors insisted this shot not be allowed, so for its original release, the image was altered so that a wooden beam covered the gendarme and his kepi. In 1997 or 98, the original version of the film was re-released in France, finally revealing the gendarme. The original American release of the film did not translate all the dialogue for the subtitles, in particular leaving out one of the two references to Jews: "Annette, from Bordeaux." Subsequent releases restored the original text: "Annette, a Jew from Bordeaux." See more
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