WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS VERY DISTURBING IMAGES
|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
German Concentration Camps Factual Survey [Blu-ray]
Culled, organized, produced and advised by Stewart McAllister, Richard Crossman and Alfred Hitchcock, 2017 (restored)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Imperial War Museums
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: with Intro and Outro - 1:29:49.541 / Film alone - 1:11:26.041
Disc Size: 42,786,389,200 bytes
Feature Size: 19,676,563,008 bytes
Video Bitrate: 29.93 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 17th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 (matted onto 1.78:1)
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps /
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps /
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbpst
English translation (of non-English dialogue), English hard-of-hearing, German, Hebrew, French, Polish, Russian, Hungarian, Italian, Czech and Dutch none
• Presented with both an optional contextualising Intro and Outro
• Panel Discussion at the BFI Southbank (2015, 41:25): restoration director Dr Toby Haggith (IMW) is joined on-stage by a panel of experts to discuss the film
• Audio Commentary with Dr Toby Haggith and senior curator Patrick Russell (BFI)
• Vox Pops Compilation (2015, 5:44): cinema-goers reflect after a screening at the BFI Southbank
• Interview with Ludwig Weill at Fort Breendonk (1945, 3:09): archival interview with a freed prisoner
• Interviews and Statements at Bergen-Belsen (1945, 17:25): archival interviews with SS soldiers, freed prisoners and members of the British Army
• Interviews and Statements at Dachau (1945, 37:54): archival interviews with recently liberated prisoners
• Interview with Petr Zenkl (1945, 12:29): archival interview with the Czech politician who was imprisoned at Dachau and Buchenwald
• Alternate archival soundtrack
• 80-page perfect-bound book with new writing on the film, and full film credits
2 DVD discs of the BD content
Description: On 29 September 1945, the incomplete rough-cut
of a disturbing yet compelling documentary revealing the
horrors of the Nazi concentration camps was viewed at the
Ministry of Information in London. For five months, Sidney
Bernstein had led a small team - which included Stewart
McAllister, Richard Crossman and Alfred Hitchcock - to
complete the film from hours of footage.
The documentary was ordered in April 1945 by SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters
Allied Expeditionary Force) and was to be the film screened in Germany
after the fall of the Third Reich - shown to German prisoners of war
wherever they were held.
A nonprofit called "3 Generations" was granted screening rights
to German Concentration Camps Factual Survey for North America
and Puerto Rico. The film premiered in New York City on 6 January 2017.
The restored film, 75 minutes in length, is bookended by a brief
introduction and postscript.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
German Concentration Camps Factual Survey gets an 1080P transfer to Blu-ray from BFI. It is a "new restoration by IWM (Imperial War Museums)" It's dual-layered with a strong bitrate for the feature and all supplements. When you press play you get the option of both the, 18-minute longer, contextualizing 'Intro' and 'Outro' version or without and just the documentary film itself. Obviously, this is almost entirely retrieved of very old footage - from different sources in varying conditions. Regardless, it can look surprisingly strong at times and the clarity and evenness are, for much of the footage used, impressive. These are not static in the film - they are moving images! The HD restoration layers the contrast and tightens the image. It is easy to accept any damage - which never makes it unwatchable and is less than I was anticipating. At the end we can see some modern input, in 1.78:1, and the detail and colors are top notch - as you might expect. This Blu-ray presentation of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. It is a testament to the restoration and the strength of this format how, with a more impacting image, the viewing can affect the individual to a higher degree. This is an amazing example of that.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
We are given the option of the restoration soundtrack or the alternative archival one which seems to have the same narration but not the background sounds (water running, archival participants voices etc.) Both are in linear PCM 2.0 channel at 2304 kbps (24-bit) and the narration sounds clean and even. There is the choice of English translation (of non-English dialogue), as well as English hard-of-hearing for the narration plus German, Hebrew, French, Polish, Russian, Hungarian, Italian, Czech and Dutch subtitle options and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE - playable worldwide.
Extras include an audio commentary with Dr Toby Haggith and senior curator Patrick Russell (BFI) giving valuable insight into completion of the project and minutia on the restoration. We also get a 3/4 hour Panel Discussion at the BFI Southbank from 2015 with restoration director Dr Toby Haggith (IMW) joined on-stage by a panel of experts to discuss the film. Vox Pops Compilation has about 6-minutes of cinema-goers reflecting after a screening at the BFI Southbank. There are vital interviews of an archival interview with a freed prisoner; Ludwig Weill at Fort Breendonk, Interviews and Statements at Bergen-Belsen has archival interviews with SS soldiers, freed prisoners and members of the British Army. Interviews and Statements at Dachau offers archival interviews with recently liberated prisoners from 1945 spanning almost 40-minutes. Other interviews include a dozen minutes with Petr Zenkl - also from 1945. He was a Czech politician who was imprisoned at Dachau and Buchenwald. The package also contains an 80-page perfect-bound book with new writing on the film, and full film credits plus 2 DVD discs containing the extensive BD content
I have seen many documentaries on the Holocaust - Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah (1985), Alain Resnais’ Night and Fog (1955), Marcel Ophüls’ The Sorrow and the Pity (1969) and others but none have impacted me in the same way as German Concentration Camps Factual Survey. Perhaps it is my age or my mood but I was almost catatonic watching the overwhelming totality of horrific images. The visuals rise above anger of religion, race, borders, nationalism and simple represent some of the darkest days of humanity ever caught on film. Hitchcock's involvement is irrelevant. We can only hope that nothing like this will ever exist in our future.The BFI Blu-ray package is monumental - even over 70-years later - for modern audiences to attempt digesting what the film is documenting to us about ourselves - the depths that human beings can treat fellow humans leaves one without words. I was drained - and can give our strongest recommendation for consumers to personally archive the events depicted. A must-own.
April 6th, 2017
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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