Nuit et brouillard (1955)

aka: Night and Fog
Documentary


Synopsis

Nuit et brouillard photo
The Holocaust - two words forever etched on the consciousness of mankind. They resound in our minds like an implacable condemnation from a Celestial power, for a crime which rips the heart and soul out of man's moral purpose. Not just killing, but meticulously planned and executed slaughter on an industrial scale. Men, women and children, young and old, rounded up, humiliated and butchered, like a cull of diseased cattle. How could it have happened? What evil entered the mind of Man and drove him to this act of ultimate depravity? Those who suffered may have left our world, but the evidence remains - writings and images that are a stark reminder to future generations of where hatred for one's fellow man can lead. It must not happen again. We must never forget.
© filmsdefrance.com 2012


Film Review

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.
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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.
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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 - Van Gogh (1948), Guernica (1950), Les Statues meurent aussi (1953).
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Subsequently, he emerged as a prominent contemporary of the French New Wave, winning acclaim for his dazzling first features Hiroshima mon amour (1959) and L'Année dernière à Marienbad (1961). 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 will never be forgotten.
The above article was written for filmsdefrance.com and should not be reproduced in any medium without the author's permission.



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