Today: July 17, 2024

Night & Fog

Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard) is a constant violent assault of disturbing images caputuring the inhumanity of the Holocaust

Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard) is a constant violent assault of disturbing images caputuring the inhumanity of the Holocaust: from the more
‘subtle’ shots of the concrete ceilings of the ‘showers’ torn by
fingernails or piles of human hair to grainy archival video that never shies
away from the cruelty inflicted upon the Jews. We see starving prisoners,
charred bodies, a pile of dismembered heads and footage of corpses
being bulldozed into a mass grave, to name is but a few.

All this is interspersed with the then,
modern-day (1951) colour footage of the quiet still of the abandoned, crumbling
buildings of the concentration camps. Not only is this one of the first
documentaries to be made about the atrocities of the Holocaust, it is perhaps the
best.

A decade after the liberation of the Nazi
concentration camps, filmmaker Alain Resnais filmed the remnants of Auschwitz
and Majdanek concentration camps. The project was born following the 1954
publication of eyewitness accounts of the deportation of the Jews describing
their lives in the camps. Edited by Henri Michel and Olga Wormser, the latter
persuaded three producers to visit a subsequent exhibition. They, in turn,
approached Alain Resnais to direct the film, who was at first reticent as he
felt that someone who had experienced the horrors of the war was better suited
for the post. He finally agreed, on the provision that novelist Jean Cayrol
would collaborate on the film. Cayrol, a former prisoner of at one of the
camps, wrote about her experiences in Poèmes
de la nuit et brouillard (1946)

Night and Fog went on to win the prestigious
Prix Jean Vigo and was selected for the Cannes Festival only to be replaced in
the line-up by another documentary following a complaint by the German embassy.
Not that the French was entirely innocent, with their own board of censors
doctoring a shot of a French soldier, in the pretence that they were
uninvolved in the Holocaust.

As a result, the then French foreign
minister Christian Pineau refused to attend Cannes to open the festival and the
18 members of the selection committee threatened to resign. Finally Night and Fog was given a slot at the festival and after an overwhelmingly
favorable reception the Berlin Festival selected it for an official screening
that year.

At 31 minutes running time, this
documentary is short and not so sweet in its tale. A must.

Clips From The Film

Ten years following the Holocaust, Alain Resnais documents the abandoned grounds of Auschwitz while reflecting on the rise of Nazi ideology and the harrowing lives of the camp prisoners using haunting wartime footage. Night and Fog was one of the first films made about the Holocaust and remains one of the most important commentaries about this topic. François Truffaut had high praise for Night and Fog, describing it as “Not a documentary, or an indictment, or a poem, but a meditation on the most important phenomenon of the Twentieth Century. ”To Buy The DVD, Click Here.

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