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Memory of the Camps
Press Reaction: Reviews that appeared for FRONTLINE's original broadcast of 'Memory of the Camps' in May 1985

New York Times + Richard F. Shepard

"Far more than any fiction, or even documentary, of the Holocaust can depict, 'Memory of the Camps' conveys the horror of the moment, the reality, more than the banality, of evil...

This ghastly, unimaginable record of the absolute schecklichkeit that saw millions, half of them Jews, perish under the most sadistic conditions, is a story not of life but of death, unrelenting, brutal, graceless death.

The narration, written by Colin Wills, in collaboration, with Richard Crossman, is read by Trevor Howard... Mr. Howard's lean and laconic, even languid delivery -- with a powerful, yet understated wonderment at how such things could come to pass -- is a perfect contrast to the scenes we witness. Were he more dramatic, more preachy, the viewer indeed could not stand to watch at all.

This is a season for monuments, for remembrance. 'Memory of the Camps' is a filmed monument that does more than tell the story of what it is recalling. It is the story itself."

Boston Globe + Ed Siegel

"... will undoubtedly become the definitive cinematic record of the hell on earth that Hitler created....

Trevor Howard's narration plays a large part in making this such a conscience-searing, gut- wrenching film. What is seen makes Picasso's surrealistic nightmares look representational to the bodies, living and dead, that are more bones than flesh; the SS troops ... burying the dead and showing little, if any, remorse. Howard, in a world-weary, matter-of-fact tone reminiscent of modern poetry, is constantly understating the gruesome imagery, thereby making it even more horrific...

It has become commonplace for contemporary filmmakers to add sound effects to historical footage, a practice that usually adds to the realism of the documentary. 'Frontline' wisely eschews such audio editing, along with the use of a musical soundtrack, and the result is staggeringly eerie. The hour is an uninterrupted silent scream that one can't turn a deaf ear to or look away from.

It is reassuring to rediscover that television has the ability to shake the soul as it does in 'Memory of the Camps.'"

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posted may 3, 2005

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