The ‘disturbing’ film, made in 1945 and withheld, was restored by the Imperial War Museum
An Alfred Hitchcock documentary about the Holocaust which was
suppressed for political reasons is to be screened for the first time in
the form its director intended after being restored by the Imperial War
Museum, reports the Independent.
Hitchcock was asked to assemble footage shot by a British army film
unit cameraman of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp
in 1945. But the resulting documentary, which had been commissioned in
an attempt to inform and educate the German populace about the
atrocities carried out by the Nazis in their name, was ultimately held
was not shown at all until 1984, in an incomplete version at the Berlin
film festival, and was missing a sixth reel and in poor quality when it
was screened on the PBS network in the US a year later. Now the film,
retrospectively titled Memory of the Camps, is to finally see the light
of day in a format Hitchcock would have approved of.
“It was suppressed because of the changing political situation,
particularly for the British,” Dr Toby Haggith, senior curator at the
Department of Research for the Imperial War Museum told the Independent.
“Once they discovered the camps, the Americans and British were keen to
release a film very quickly that would show the camps and get the
German people to accept their responsibility for the atrocities that
Haggith said test screenings had left colleagues, experts and film
historians extremely disturbed. The film’s narration, which has been
re-recorded with a new actor, features descriptions of “sightseers” at a
“chamber of horrors”.
“The digital restoration has made this material seem very fresh,”
said Haggith. “One of the common remarks was that it [the film] was both
terrible and brilliant at the same time.”
The film is due to be shown on British television in 2015 to mark the
70th anniversary of the liberation of Europe. It will be accompanied by
a new documentary from Andre Singer, a producer on the acclaimed 2013
film The Act of Killing, which has topped a number of critical best of the year lists including the Guardian’s. Both films will be shown at film festivals and cinemas later this year.
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