Night and Fog

Night and Fog

4.0 7
Director: Alain Resnais

Cast: Alain Resnais, Michel Bouquet

     
 

One only wishes that Alain Resnais' documentary on the Holocaust, Night and Fog were longer, but even at a scant 31 minutes, this powerful short film details plenty about the horror of that terrible period of time. Now on DVD from Criterion, the disc also leaves the viewer wishing for a little more. The image, which is full-frame (it was not shot widescreen),See more details below

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Overview

One only wishes that Alain Resnais' documentary on the Holocaust, Night and Fog were longer, but even at a scant 31 minutes, this powerful short film details plenty about the horror of that terrible period of time. Now on DVD from Criterion, the disc also leaves the viewer wishing for a little more. The image, which is full-frame (it was not shot widescreen), varies based on the source material. The footage shot in 1955 of the concentration camp grounds looks as good as if it was filmed today, yet the stock footage from 20 years earlier certainly shows its age. All things considered, the transfer is still quite good; at least as good as it can be. The mono soundtrack in French is the one originally used in theaters, and as expected, is perfectly adequate for this type of film. The narration is clear, as is the haunting score from Hanns Eisler, which is also included by itself on a separate audio track. Unfortunately, the subtitles are white, and disappear against the background at times. What is lacking with this title is significant supplemental material. Criterion, known for adding as much as they can, must not have had much at their disposal, as all that's included are biographies of the main crew members and a radio broadcast about this film (running only around five minutes) that Resnais gave in 1994. Regardless, this film's historical impact makes up for any deficiencies.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
An almost unbearably powerful film, Night and Fog is a shattering cinematic experience. Alain Resnais' documentary revisits his familiar theme of memory and its impact upon the present to provide an effective frame for the horrors that were perpetrated in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. A beautiful blue sky may balance against a lovely field of green in the present, but underneath the colorful blend is the black-and-white despair captured in photographs and footage from when the camps were in use. Resnais keeps the narration steady and level, letting the words describe the atrocities but keeping the voice (courtesy of narrator Michel Bouquet) relatively calm. This "normal" vocal approach contrasts with the staggering brutality of the images, driving home the fact that while your eyes may wish to believe that such things happen only in the most perverse of imaginations, the voice reminds you that, no, it happened in real life. Resnais and writer Jean Cayrot force us, by gentle means, to confront the gruesomeness of this past, and make it more immediate and shocking by detailing how some of the remains of the murdered were later used (in the creation of products such as soap). Night is breath taking as film, revealing a masterful use of the medium by Renais, but it is of even greater importance as a document of the inhumanity that humans can be capable of.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/24/2003
UPC:
0037429180822
Original Release:
1955
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Presentation:
[B&W]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Mono]
Time:
0:31:00
Sales rank:
6,699

Special Features

New high-defintion digital transfer, with restored image and sound; Excerpt from an audio interview with Alain Resnais, from Les Étoiles du Cinéma (1994); Optional isolated music track; New essay about the film by Phillip Lopate; Essay about composer Hanns Eisler by Russell Lack; Crew profiles written by film historian Peter Cowie; New and improved English subtitle translation

Cast & Crew

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits [1:36]
2. Building the Camps [6:19]
3. "Another Planet" [7:58]
4. "Man Is Resilient" [4:01]
5. Extermination [8:39]
6. "Who Is Responsible?" [3:15]

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