I don’t think there are many movies as hard to watch as Alain Resnais’ famous testimony Night and Fog. It’s a testimony to one of the darkest chapters in human history. The film is only 30 minutes long and combines actual footage with a documentary part on the concentration camps in 1955.
I have to admit that this movie made me physically sick. I could literally not stomach it.
The camera takes us to a concentration camp in 1955. This is pretty much what they still look like today. I think most of them have been preserved the way they were and can be visited. The camera approaches the camp and a monotonous voice that almost sounds as if reading a poem tells us what we see and meditates about the fact that this all looks so normal, that all the names like Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwitz, Treblinka were once just names and spots on a map.
From those initial pictures the movie switches to actual footage and we see first the trains, then the arrival in the camps, the conditions of the barracks, the hospitals where they performed horrible vivisections, the showers, the furnace, the piles of bodies.
The combination of the voice, the back and forth between the images of today and the actual footage showing those emaciated faces, the grimaces of those who died in pain, the huge mountains of hair and shoes and skin… It’s hard to bear.
I think this is one of the most important films on the extermination camps there is.
Most of it can be watched on YouTube but it would be better to watch it in one go to get the full impact.
I had to watch all of it. I think those masses who endured all this deserved it. Who am I to complain about an upset stomach? After turning it off I was back in my own cozy life, while they had really been there…
Most important of all, a movie like this, that bears testimony to an atrocity, helps us to not forget and to never ever let it happen again.
Please also have a look at this great resource The H.E.A.R.T Holocaust Research Project.
Important review. I agree with your sentiments. Lest we forget, we need to be reminded of man’s inhumanity towards man. I did not realize it was so short. Packs a wallop. Too strong for a high school classroom?
That’s a very good question… There are naked bodies too (just thinking of the US logic). I’m not sure how much exposure you are allowed, would you be allowed to show them pictures of the genocide in Rwanda? They might be highly disturbed, especially if they don’t know much which is happening… Children and young people forget it, don’t know about it. Watch it first and then you will decide. Maybe with your son?
Here in America, we are not allowed to care about Rwanda. We only have room for one genocide.
I will get it from Net Flix and watch it. Thanks for your input. If I get in trouble for showing it I’ll just say you recommended it LOL. I don’t think our school board has an extradition treaty with Switzerland.
I’m really interested to know what you will think of it. It intensifies reading the book by Primo Levi.
Just finished it. Amazing. Thank you so much for the recommendation. It could not have been better and at 30 minutes it does not bludgeon you. I loved the way the narration synched up with the archival footage and the recent color footage of the abandoned camps contrasted with the black and white Nazi footage. The narration was effectively terse and I loved the sarcasm. The most chilling thing was the mentioning of the finger nail scrapings on the ceilings of the gas chambers. The most stomach churning was the incredible, seemingly endless pile of human hair. The only flaw was the ending where Resnais stretches it a bit by implying we were on the verge of another Holocaust in 1955.
You are very welcome, I’m glad you appreciated it. I have blocked out the bit about the finger nails…. I felt the same about the hair. It’s all still there just like that. I do never want to go there ever. Yes, the narrative is sarcastic. I think the movie is perfect, no Holocaust movie with actors could ever achieve this. It was a good idea to make it short. You staye glued to the screen and have no chance of getting numb watching it. That might happen if it had been too long, one would start to block it out. Alain Resnais is the same film director who did Hiroshima mon Amour, the movie companion to the July readalong. You can skip that book btw and just watch the movie (the book is a film script).
I didn’t get that part about 1955 being on the brink of another war.
“I didn’t get that part about 1955 being on the brink of another war.”
It was more of a “it could happen again” vibe. But I got the impression he was not referring to the distant future.
[…] Nuit et brouillard aka Night and Fog (1955): WWII. Alain Resnais’ Holocaust classic. Death Camps. Final Solution. Documentary/original footage about the horrors of the concentration camps. Gut-wrenching. Impressive. A must-see. (Here is the review) […]
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