Towards a Critical Understanding of Representational and Semantic Issues within Hanns Eisler’s Score for Nuit et Brouillard (1955)
Nuit et Brouillard (1955) is a Holocaust documentary film by Alain Resnais. It was commissioned in May 1955 by the Comité d’Histoire de la Déportation de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale and completed in December of the same year.1
Joshua Hirsch establishes the film’s reputation in After Image: Film, Trauma and the Holocaust as “one of the most highly regarded Holocaust films.”2 Annette Insdorf, in her introduction to Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust reinforces its effectiveness by exclaiming that “whenever I show Night and Fog in my courses, students are shocked and profoundly moved, for it is generally their first encounter with the palpable images of Auschwitz.”3 The film has a running time of just 32 minutes and is presented as a sequence of visual montages in colour and black-and-white, accompanied by a narration and musical soundtrack.
Holocaust survivor Jean Cayrol, a former Mauthausen concentration camp prisoner, proved invaluable to Resnais for the creation of the screenplay, ensuring that the film had a “guarantee of authenticity”.4 The screenplay was narrated by Michel Bouquet. Resnais was adamant that the film should “tell the truth” and not be “yet another monument to the dead”.5 Resnais intended the film to be accessible for all, stating in an interview that “With Night and Fog, it was my wish to make a film likely to reach a wide audience.”6
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