Analysis Of Night And Fog

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To commemorate the ten-year anniversary of liberation of concentration camps of World War II, Alain Resnais released Night and Fog in 1956 with written commentary by Jean Cayrol. The film depicts that gruesome reality of World War II concentration camps. Alain Resnais worked diligently to create a film that accurately exposed the lives of prisoners of concentration camps; while the film was mainly met with high praise, it did initially receive backlash upon it’s release and continues to hear criticism from the Jewish community. While the film’s running time is only a short 32 minutes, Resnais captures the rise of Nazi ideology all the way to the liberation of the camps, sparing no horrific detail in between the two. The documentary shows…show more content…
It’s used as a teaching element for many schools and universities on the subject of the Holocaust. However, upon its initial release in 1956 it was met with backlash and censorship (Knaap 38). The first time it was met with criticism was over an image of a French gendarme keeping watch of a Jewish camp. The image showed the responsibility the Vichy Government played in the persecution and round of the French Jews (Knaap). The hat the officer wore, called a kepi, was a giveaway to this man’s work with the Vinchy Government. Resnais was asked to cut the scene out of the film and at first he refused, but eventually compromised and drew a black beam over the man’s kepi…show more content…
However, his Universalist approach to the subject gained criticism from the Jewish community in that Night and Fog almost entirely suppresses the persecution and suffering Jews experienced at this time. The European Jewish community’s persecution far surpassed that of any other marginalized group by the Nazi Party during World War II, with the death toll of Jews estimated at 6 million people (Documenting Numbers of Victims of the Holocaust and Nazi Persecution). In Resnais’ film, the word “Jew” is only mentioned once in reference to a victim that was a Jewish student (Tzioumakis 247). Eric Kligerman argues that Resnais attempt to show parallels between past and present that could happen again, his absence of voicing Jewish victims contributes to the suppression he’s critiquing (171). However, there are those that argue in favor for Resnais ingenuity. It’s arguable that Resnais knew the French audiences originally viewing the film would have known who the victims were and that Jewish victims were visible throughout the film (Tzioumakis 248). Resnais was truly a gifted artist and so this detail of never mentioning the word “Jew” was not a small oversight, instead he used the film as a platform to call attention to a “stricter morality” (Tzioumakis). The film is used as a means to advocate against genocidal violence
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