Night and FogDirector: Alain Resnais, Michel Bouquet
Night and Fog represents the peak of director Alain Resnais' activities as a short-subject filmmaker. Framed as a documentary, the film is an unsettling view of life inside the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. As he would in his later features (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Last Year at Marienbad et. al.) Resnais toys with chronology, with memory becoming present reality and vice versa at several critical junctures. Jean Cayrol, later responsible for the script of Resnais' Muriel (1962), wrote the narration for Night and Fog. The film was originally released in France as Nuit et Brouillard.
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- [Wide Screen]
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Cast & Crew
|Hanns Eisler||Score Composer|
|Chris Marker||Asst. Director|
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One of my two favorite films, Nuit et brouillard speaks the unspeakable. It recalls me as a child seeing for the first time those images that could not be what they were but were what they were. With commentary in French, the least mystical of languages, color footage of decaying camps mixed with those impossible realities haunt consciousness. Nothing could be or is the same. One has to put the film into historical context. One has to explore the history, but the images make the history eternally immediate. I contrast this brief documentary with Marcel Ophuls' somewhat dissimilar five-hour documentary Memory of Justice. One leaves the later film cleansed one can never leave the former without the taste of dust and ashes that linger forever on the palette. Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast is the other of my two favorite films. Somehow, it makes sense to me to pair them. I do not understand why.This is a film that transcends the easy nonsense of too much criticism.
I teach high school English, and this video is the perfect compliment to any unit on the Holocaust. It is a breath-taking work that is the perfect mix of art and truth. The short video walks you through the shocking footage and information telling you the story of the death camps piece by piece, in just the right speed, so you are able to handle all the grim realities without being systematically overloaded. A poignant piece that really is educational and informative. The music provides the perfect background. Do not let the French narration intimidate you, the subtitles are great.
When Alain Resnais directed "Night And Fog", World War II had ended ten years earlier. However, the worst memory of that war, namely The Holocaust, had barely been broached upon, despite the fact that twelve million people died in the concentration camps. "Night And Fog" was perhaps the first movie ever made about the Holocaust. It does not use any footage from German newsreels, which shows that not everybody was ready to face up it to yet. But Resnais and his filmmakers were. Resnais became one of the major celebrities of The French New Wave cinematic movement of the 1950's, which gave us Francious Trauffaut. Chris Marker, who also became a prominent filmmaker, worked as an assistant director on this film. And Jean Cayrol, who spent time in the concentration camps and survived, wrote the narration. It is told in a numb, forlorn fashion, which only gives "Night And Fog" a more heartbreaking edge. Even Georges Delerue's poignant musical score is a hallmark. The filmmakers simply let their cameras walk around a decayed and abandoned concentration camp (Cayrol says, "No footstep is heard but ours") mixed with some photos and newsreel footage. We see that the prison is almost like an empty city, complete with a brothel, a police department and a hospital; Cayrol mentions "The vents did not muffle the cries for help." Though the camps were made to look like normal prisons, unspeakable evil flourished in these places. Like any great documentarian, Resnais lets the images speak for themselves. Such as the emaciated prisoners in the Nazi hospital being used as medical guinea pigs. Or the warehouse of all of the prisoners' belongings---clothes, shoes, books, eyeglasses, everything was there. The Nazis even kept locks of hair so high that it looks like a mountain. It's hard not to look at that and not feel emotional. Most of the footage here is hard to take, even for those who are aware of the subject. Resnais also shows footage of the Nazi trials after the war with ex-Nazis, none of whom claim any shred of responsibility. But Resnais counters that making us watch the unwatchable---horrific images of twisted bodies in a mass grave---while Cayrol asks, "Who is responsible, then?" "Night And Fog" only runs for thirty minutes. Yet, you'll remember it forever.