Synopsis by Mark Deming
The pioneering photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson made a rare foray into filmmaking with this documentary. Cartier-Bresson, who escaped from a German prison camp in 1943, worked with an underground organization that helped fellow fugitives from the German military authorities, and in collaboration with Richard Banks, an American military filmmaker, he helped to film the liberation of Paris by Allied troops in 1944. With Banks's help, Cartier-Bresson directed Le Retour (aka The Return), a short film which chronicled a handful of French prisoners of war and others detained by Axis forces as they came back to their homes and families following the collapse of the Third Reich. Produced with the assistance of the U.S. Office of War Information, Le Retour was screened as part of an exhibition of Cartier-Bresson's work at New York City's Museum of Modern Art in 1946; it was originally planned as a posthumous retrospective until it was discovered that the artist had survived the war despite reports of his death.