Documentary Films Have Played an Important Part in Determining the Way We Construct History and Memory. in What Ways Do Documentary Films Dealing with the Holocaust Determine Contemporary Understandings of That Historical Event?

2955 Words Mar 22nd, 2006 12 Pages
Documentary films and their representations of the Holocaust have served not only to speak their ‘truth' of the atrocities but also to document changing paradigms of social thought concerning Holocaust ‘truth'.

Holocaust History and its documentation:

Theodor Adorno's famous 1949 injunction that ‘to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric' is indicative of the initial approaches of documentary to the subject matter.
The first documentary footage of the Holocaust was shot as Allied troops entered the camps of Bergen-Belsen and Dachau, but this footage was archived by British Ministry of Information, wary of the political and social repercussions of such explicit imagery in a war-torn and divided Germany. These censorious
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The aforementioned quotation also highlights the social divides in France, the second front of the war, ‘those lucky Kapos, reinstated officers' (Night and Fog) who escaped direct exposure for their complicity in both Resnais' documentary and the 1950s.

Marcel Ophuls' encyclopaedic documentary The Sorrow and the Pity (1971) stands as a key counter-myth to the sophistries of a united, subjugated France, and to that of sole Nazi blame for the Holocaust. Expanding on Resnais' Night and Fog Ophuls' achievement is to debunk errors in historical remembrance and evince broader understanding of the conflict. The film was commissioned by German and Swiss television and whilst it was broadcast in Germany, Switzerland, Holland and the United States in 1969, notoriously, the French ORTF would oppose its screening until 1981. The film, thus, for today's audience, marks an individual moment of historical denial as well as revalation, the conflicting reluctance and willingness to accept broader notions of the Nazi-occupied territories' (specifically French) complicity in the genocide. The film is a four-hour long document constructed in two parts: ‘L'Effondrement' and ‘Le Choix', and presents through these two sections an investigation into the prejudices and conflict of pre-war France and the context of their eventual willing collaboration with their Nazi occupiers. Ophuls' technique is investigative, and bridges the modal gap between Night and Fog

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