Cloquet's camera tracks slowly through a deserted, autumnal Auschwitz, with its rusted wire, dilapidated huts and silent crematoria. This muted Technicolor 'now' is intercut with the grainy monochrome records of 'then', as the commentary outlines the development and operation of the Nazi death camps. The achievement of Resnais' film is to find a tone appropriate to the desolating enormity of what took place. Cayrol's text presents the facts with a mixture of indignation, bewilderment and cool irony, complemented by Eisler's music, the austerity of which is cut with passages of great tenderness. The subtext for film-makers is that unless you're certain you can match the emotional and intellectual range brought to bear here, far better to leave this particular subject well alone.
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