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Nuit et Brouillard - An effective testamant to the victims of the Holocaust?

The production of Nuit et Brouillard began in 1955 and it was completed in 1956. This was a period of time when short films were frequently made – they were as popular as longer feature films and it was a legal obligation to play a ‘court-métrage’ before a longer film in cinemas – and Resnais had already directed several of these. The original concept for the documentary was formed because of an exhibition relating to the holocaust, which was held at the ‘Institut Pédagogique National’ in November 1954. It was attended by Henri Michel and Anatole Dauman who were affected greatly by the images that they saw and decided to commission a documentary to commemorate the Holocaust. It was then that Alain Resnais was asked to direct the film. Resnais had already directed a number of other documentaries and he was thought to be suitable for the job.

The film uses actual footage taken from concentration camps and tries to portray the horrendous and terrible persecution that was experienced by the victims. However, can it be said that a short video can account for each atrocity? Can a medium such as film really relay the loss of life to the viewer?

It is fair to say that Resnais succeeds in starkly showing what was going on and the detached voiceover provides information to supplement the images. Any cultural product dealing with the Holocaust serves as a testament because it strives to preserve the memory of lives lost and Resnais' documentary is doing just this.



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