World War II Concentration Camps

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This is a French documentary from 1955. It is directed by Alain Resnais ten years after the Nazi concentration camps were disbanded. The documentary itself is composed of footage from Auschwitz and Majdanek concentration camps accompanied with the description of the experiences of the people that were detained in these camps.

Resnais collaborated on this project with Jean Cayrol, a scriptwriter and a former detainee of the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. The soundtrack of this documentary is composed by Hanns Eisler.

Resnais refused to engage in this project until Cayrol accepted to participate and write the script for it. The duo managed to film the entire documentary in 1955 and all of the video material, used in this project, was filmed that year. They describe the involvement in this film as highly emotional and difficult due to the nature of the topic and their individual experiences during World War II.

The German embassy along with the French censors opposed the screening of this documentary on the Cannes Film Festival due to the questionable portrait of a French policeman in the film. Despite their efforts, the documentary was released and received a number of positive critics. It was screened again in 1990 as a reminder of the horror that accompanies war.

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