While it was thought that Alain Resnais was reluctant to take on a Holocaust documentary, when interviewed in 1992 he said that the film is supposed to serve as an allegory for the French intervention in Algeria which occurred at the time of the film's release. Therefore, it make sense that he would use the word "deporte" instead of "jew" he was trying to make an anti-genocide statement in general and to use the word 'Jew' would have taken away from his larger message. That is also why he chose to use the figure of 9 million killed; including not only the 6 million Jews but also the 3 million others that were killed under the Nazi regime.
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In the DVD re-release, there is a subtle but controversial difference in one of the still photographs of a Nazi concentration camp in southern France. In this version the distinctive profile of a French gendarmes can be seen at one of the camps, implying that the French Vichy government of the time was aware of and perhaps involved in the management of the camps. This same photograph appears in the original version but the gendarme's profile was obscured at the insistence of the French government (who commissioned the film) when the film was in post-production.
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One of the first documentaries to openly deal with the Holocaust.
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The then Federal German government intervened successfully to prevent the film being shown at the Cannes Film Festival on the grounds that the festival's regulations prevented any film being shown that would cause offense to any participating nation. Ironically, the director of the Berlin Film Festival lobbied hard for the film to be shown at his festival.
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François Truffaut considered this 33 minute documentary to be the greatest film ever made.
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The title refers to a strategy instigated by Himmler in December 1941 that helped propagate the fear of the Third Reich. Anyone caught resisting the Nazi occupiers would be arrested and then immediately whisked off to the camps in such a way that they would vanish without a trace, "into the night and fog".
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The film from Buchenwald, directed by Billy Wilder, with "Human skin lampshade" and two shrunken heads is considered by some as allied propaganda as the lamp from the movie has vanished and was not submitted as evidence in 1947 trial. Heads were submitted but none of the accused was specifically charged with shrinking these heads.
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Jean Cayrol 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.
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At the 1954 exhibition at the Institut Pedagogique National, producer Anatole Dauman asked director Alain Resnais to direct a study of the Holocaust. But Resnais wasn't keen as he didn't want to express opinions on an event that he hadn't witnessed. His condition was that novelist Jean Cayrol agree to script the commentary. Cayrol, however, was even more reluctant to go near the project, given that he was a Holocaust survivor and didn't want to revisit some very painful memories. Resnais' collaborator Chris Marker was able to persuade him otherwise.
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Alain Resnais was reluctant to take on the Holocaust documentary until Holocaust survivor Jean Cayrol joined in the project.
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The film's working title was "Resistance and Deportation". This was changed as it couldn't be applied to the German population.
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The film was commissioned by the Comite d'Histoire de la Deuxieme Guerre Mondiale - a government commission assigned the tasks of assembling documentary material on and of launching historical inquiries and studies in the period of the French Occupation - and the Reseau de Souvenir, an association devoted to the memory of those who died in the camps.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #197.
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In Spain was only released in 3 theaters: Madrid (Conde Duque, Verdi) and Barcelona (Verdi). The film was projected 1 day in subtitled version.
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This film has a 100% rating based on 20 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.
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