Saturday, March 23, 2013

299. Nuit et brouillard/Night and Fog (1955)

Running Time: 31 minutes
Directed By: Alain Resnais
Written By: Jean Cayrol
Main Cast: Michel Bouquet, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler, Julius Steicher


So we go from dealing with the number ten, in the form of "Ten Commandments", to dealing with the number three, as it pertains to the three Alain Resnais movies from THE BOOK. In a related note, if you add up the three running times from the three Resnais movies, it still doesn't equal the total running time of "The Ten Commandments" alone.

Man, where do you start with this one? Well, for the unaware, "Night and Fog" is a documentary film directed by Alain Resnais (which I'm given to understand is pronounced like Renee) in 1955. The film uses both archival, black & white footage and color footage, shot by Resnais himself and illustrates the atrocities committed by the Nazis upon the Jews, during World War II. Throughout the film, Michel Bouquet provides a haunting narration, reminding us that the horrors of war can rear their ugly head at any moment. Most likely, if you've read anything about this film at all, then you've heard of the scene which depicts a mountain of human hair, which the Nazi's shaved from the heads of (mostly) female prisoners and later used to make cloths. Other images that will haunt you for the rest of your life include another mountain, this time of human bones (which the Nazi's attempted to use as fertilizer), dead bodies being bulldozed into a pit and fingernail markings on the roof of a gas chamber...

That's the moment where this film really got real for me and really started to hit me the way I'm sure Resnais intended. Imagine being so frightened that you try to use your fingernails to scratch through a cement roof. It would be the point where all reason left your body and you were literally willing to try anything to breathe one more breath. Even writing about it now and recalling the movie is making my heart race just a bit faster. Another image from the film that impacted me pretty hard, were the pictures that were taken just moments before a mass killing. To see these people and to know that they were about to die, even when they themselves probably didn't even know it, is just sad.

It's really terrifying to think that these horrible people once existed. That they were capable of doing these things to their fellow human beings. How evil do you have to be to torture another person? At one point in the film it is noted that some prisoners taken into the concentration camp hospital were so hungry that they would begin to eat the dressings from their bandaged wounds.

Look, it's an absolutely horrific film (not quality wise), the stuff of nightmares really and the worst part is that no nightmare could ever compare to this and to think this stuff really happened. In the end, I don't know how well it will fair on a TOP 20 list. I don't know that I'd ever want to see it fact, once was probably one time too many. Although, on the other hand an argument could be made that it's required viewing and I'd agree with that too. It did, at times, feel a bit rushed and I probably could've gone for another hour of documentary footage, with a little more care to be taken with each scene, a little more silence for the viewer to be able to soak in and comprehend the evil that is on display. Also the score was pretty awful. I'm not really sure about you, but I could've done with a much more dread filled music.

RATING: No rating for this one. What's the point of even trying to affix a number. I don't know if it was good or if it was bad, from a quality standpoint, but what it displayed was some pretty haunting stuff.


March 23, 2013  11:06pm


  1. You are right.. you cannot give an honest 'score out of 10' for a film like this.
    That becomes obvious when you look at IMDB.. films of this subject attract weird scoring.. lots of '10s', because the subject warrents it rather than the film... and, really scarily, lots of '1's from the denial nutters.

    1. I gave it a '5' on IMDB, because if you don't rate movie on there, then it doesn't recognize that you've seen them at all.


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