Night and FogNight and Fog

Night and Fog

A filmmaker documents the abandoned Auschwitz concentration camp, contrasting stillness with wartime footage.

Why watch this film?

I find it particularly revealing that Alain Resnais – a filmmaker who, until then, had only experimented with some documentary shorts – initially refused to direct this documentary about the horrors of the Holocaust, commissioned by the organizations Committee for the History of the Second World War and Memory Network to commemorate a decade of French liberation and Nazi concentration camps. His reason: that only someone who had experienced the tragedy firsthand would be truly capable of addressing the topic properly. He requested that poet and novelist Jean Cayrol, a survivor of the Mauthausen concentration camp, be hired as a screenwriter, as he had written 'Poems of the Night and Fog' (which gave title to the resulting film, in turn taken from Hitler's directive to disappear without trace his opponents of the Reich, "Nacht und Nebel"). The result speaks for itself: at a time when much was still unknown about the Holocaust, 'Night and Fog' (‘Nuit et Brouillard') came to try to express an inexpressible horror and suffering even by those who endured it. It is a crucial historical document, whose relevance becomes even greater as the inexorable distance of time makes it increasingly difficult to conceive one of the worst atrocities ever committed by humanity. We must not forget.



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Plot summary

Ten years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, filmmaker Alain Resnais documented the abandoned grounds of Auschwitz, contrasting the stillness of the abandoned camps’ quiet, empty buildings with haunting wartime footage, and investigating the cyclical nature of man’s violence toward man.

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