Nuit et brouillard (1955)
aka: Night and Fog
A film directed by Alain Resnais

Genre: Documentary

Film Review

Nuit et brouillard photo
Commissioned by the French Committee for the History of the Second World War, Nuit et brouillard is widely recognised as the film which provides the most potent depiction of the horrors of the Holocaust. Even knowing about the atrocities committed in the Nazi concentration camps is not enough to prepare you for the trauma of watching this film.

Nuit et brouillard is simply one of the most poignant and shocking pieces of cinema ever created. It is all the more effective for its subdued style of presentation, as sombre and as restrained as a documentary on any other subject. In contrast to what you might expect, there is hardly any emotion in the film's narration. Yet it is a film which has an immense emotional impact on its spectator.

The film was directed by Alain Resnais, who earned a great reputation for his short documentaries in the 1940s and 1950s before emerging as a prominent director of the Nouvelle Vague, with such films as Hiroshima, mon amour (1959) and L'Année dernière à Marienbad (1961). Whilst Nuit et Brouillard is rigorously framed as a documentary, it shows the stamp of its director very clearly, particularly his technique for merging past and present, suggesting the importance of memory in our waking consciousness.

Subdued colour photography of the now deserted concentration camps is inter-cut with harrowing archive footage depicting the fate of the deportees. The film is telling us that behind the 'banality' of our collective recollection of World war II, there lies a horror of unspeakable inhumanity that is scarcely imaginable.

The film ends with a simple question. Who is responsible for this?   Perhaps we, the succeeding generations, are, if ever we forget the lesson of the Holocaust.
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The Holocaust - two words forever etched on the consciousness of mankind...
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Film Credits

Directed by Alain Resnais
Starring: Michel Bouquet, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler, Julius Streicher
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