1955, documentary film, 32 min.
Resnais’ Nuit et Brouillard, the first film made after World War II in which authentic footage from the concentration camps was shown to a large public, caused considerable furor in Europe and unleashed a discussion that has continued to the present day. In contrast to Claude Lanzmann’s nine-hour-long epic Shoah (1985), with its “dry” testimony from survivors, Resnais uses the gruesome black and white footage from the camps in his documentary, alternating with color shots of the remains of the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1955, accompanied by a poetic text and music. The importance of Jean Cayrol’s text is emphasized by the translations, which poets Victor van Vriesland and Paul Celan made for the Dutch and German versions of the film. Image and commentary work closely together in an attempt to represent the unimaginable. Instead of restricting the meaning of the persecution of the Jews to a closed past, Resnais extends it to the present and the future. The film concludes with a kind of warning: “…we who pretend to believe that all of that only belongs to a single time and a single country and who forget to look around us and who don’t hear the cries sounding endlessly.”
Alain Resnais, born 1922, lives and works in Paris. Selected films: Pas sur la bouche, 2003; On connaît la chanson, 1997; Contre l’Oubli, 1991; Loin du Vietnam, 1967; Hiroshima mon amour, 1959.