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Night And Fog (Alain Resnais, 1955)

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message 1: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Nov 08, 2008 07:47AM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments I'm not sure if this needs a lengthy prologue. I'll let my review speak for itself. Needless to say, it should be watched by everyone.

NIGHT AND FOG (Alain Resnais, 1955, France) A train chugs its way through the murk, human beings its inhumane cargo, the destination an Extermination Camp where showers deliver Zyklon B insecticide and the ovens burn paper-thin flesh and brittle bone, now obscured by the night and fog of history and diabolical revisionist propaganda. But Director Alain Resnais helps us to peer beyond this veil of darkness, to remove the blinders, to see through the gentle illusion of lush green fields and now moldering structures. His documentary is only ten years removed from Hitler’s Final Solution and yet memory fades, the cruel tendrils of ignorance and insult still firmly grip the heart, and the burden of guilt denied by all involved and blame shifted to only a select few. Resnais utilizes a simple plot structure; he films amid the overgrown Death Camps of 1955 and crosscuts with archival images, these brutal horrors merge into our conscious minds and make us understand that this really happened, here at this particular place where the rusting wire fences, once full of electricity and jagged barbed wire, now rise like spines on the back of a sleeping demon. Though the stink of death has been removed from this charnel house, the horrors inflicted here are nonetheless real, the suffering bled into the very ground, and can never to be forgotten. Images of vacant gaunt faces, bloated corpses with bulging blind eyes, mountains of hair weaved into cloth, and a warehouse full of shoes and eyeglasses; each moving frame speaks 9 million words about the deep abattoir of the human soul, of those responsible who carried out the atrocities and those who let it happen. With the gentle yet firm narration, Resnais is concerned with the callous disregard for life that is pregnant within each one of us and must be acknowledged before it can be eradicated. We must understand that atrocities and aggression haunt our past, and this Holocaust is but one action among a history of violence. He asks, “Who is on the lookout from this strange tower to warn us of the coming of new executioners? Are their faces really that different from our own?” (A+)

message 2: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10722 comments nice that you wrote about a short documentary. and this is a great review, alex. the tone of the film is perfect for the subject, i doubt that there has ever been as poetic a reading on the hollocaust. your review reflects those poetics nicely. this is a great film, and i echo alex's enthusiasm for it. you might rent it thinking you're in for the evening, but it's less than 30 minutes, if i'm not mistaken.

message 3: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Yes, just under 30 minutes which is the only "flaw" in an otherwise perfect film. Though it could have been longer, maybe the impact would have been diminished as we often have short attention spans...especially concerning the ugly and horrific truth.

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