Commissioned by the French Committee for the History of the Second World War, Nuit
is widely recognised as the film which provides the most potent depiction
of the horrors of the Holocaust.
Even fore-knowledge about the atrocities committed in
the Nazi concentration camps is not enough to prepare you for the trauma of watching this
film. It is simply one of the most harrowing movie experiences you will
ever endure, and rightly so. The Holocaust is a crime that humanity
dare not forget.
Nuit et brouillard
is all the more effective for its low-key documentary
style, which merely presents the grim facts of the Nazi death camps
without attempting to force an emotional response.
It is enough for us to see the images and listen to the description of the inhuman way in which the Nazis' victims
were treated and disposed of to be sickened to the core. You weep inwardly
for every second of the film's brief duration as you watch it in a state of numbed disbelief.
Sombre colour shots of the now deserted concentration camps are inter-cut with
archive footage depicting the fate of the deportees. With subdued
eloquence, this remarkable film reveals to us one of the greatest crimes that man
has ever perpetrated against his fellow man. How can anyone fail to be moved by this?
The film was directed by Alain Resnais, who had earned a great reputation with his earlier documentary
shorts of the 1940s and 1950s -
Les Statues meurent aussi
Subsequently, he emerged as a prominent contemporary of the French New Wave,
winning acclaim for his dazzling first features
Hiroshima mon amour
and L'Année dernière à Marienbad
Far from being an impersonal educational piece, Nuit et Brouillard
bears its author's distinctive imprint clearly, a major theme of Resnais's being
the importance of the past in shaping our present reality. The
Holocaust is a historical event but it has such importance that it must
remain with us, etched into the waking consciousness of every human
being on the planet, if we are to avoid the chance of it happening again.
Resnais's film has this effect - once seen, Nuit et brouillard
never be forgotten.
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