Night and Fog (1956)

night and fog poster 1956 documentary holocaust
10 Overall Score

A documentary you won't forget

Hard to watch

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Night and Fog

Studio:  Argos Films

Genre(s):  Documentary

Release Date(s):  January 1956 (France)/April 29, 1956 (Cannes)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

night and fog documentary concentration camps barbed wire

One of the hardest things you’ll have to watch…

The war is over, but now over ten years later, it is time to reflect on the horrors that occurred.  Concentration camps for created to house the Jewish people and as the war rages on, the death increases.  From horrible experimentations, forced labor, and ultimately extermination, the terrors of the war are explored…and never forgotten.

Directed by Alain Resnais, Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard) is a short French documentary.  The film was released to critical acclaim but also criticism for footage used to show the horrors of the concentration camps.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #197).

I don’t know if we watched Night and Fog in school, but we did watch something which featured footage also used in Night and Fog…and it still haunts me to today.  Night and Fog is not a documentary you can watch lightly, and it is more horrifying than any horror movie you’ll ever see.

night and fog jewish people train

Easy to say “why didn’t they fight back?” when it isn’t you and the crushing was systematic

The structure of the film is pretty simple.  It is a reflection and quick outline of the concentration camps and how they were run.  It doesn’t go very deep into the structure, locations, or day to day life, but instead, it features a narration that lays out more about the horror.

The film features a lot of the “current” footage of the camps (from when it was made in the 1950s).  This is in color and sharp contrast to the grainy footage from during the war.  It also demonstrates how time passes.  Even in ten years, the camps are kind of falling apart in disrepair.  It is the challenge of history…remember or forget the horror.  Honor this lives lost by bringing it all down or building it up so no one can forget what happened.

night and fog concentration camp murdered jewish people

Easy to forget when you see the nightmarish carnage that each of these “bodies” was a person…with a family and people who cared about them

What is shocking in Night and Fog however is the footage from within the camps.  The documentary starts out rather typical with footage of Jewish people being loaded in trains and registered at camps, but it then goes into complete shock mode as the Jewish people begin to be exterminated.  Piles of human hair segues into footage of emaciated bodies being shoved into mass graves, buckets of heads, and rotting corpses…it is horrific and unforgettable.  Special effects can never capture (and probably never should capture) what the real footage looks like.

Night and Fog is an unforgettable documentary that probably should be seen, but it is also scarring.  It isn’t long (just around thirty minutes), but it resonates far after you see it.  You could argue that the film is mostly shock value, but imagine how it was for those living it…seeing the horror that is only thirty minutes every day…and knowing the faces and names of the people in those piles of bodies.  It isn’t something can ever truly be understood by those who didn’t live it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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