The holocaust. It’s a term that essentially everyone is familiar with, and it is the subject of many films. Although these films have been made over the last several decades the greatest one is this, Night and Fog made in 1955. This film chronicles what went on in the concentration camps during World War 2. This is a Polish documentary that gives you a true insight into the horrors that occurred during the war. Although the film is only 30 minutes long it manages to be a moving and powerful piece of history that will leave you speechless.
This films true shining feature is its juxtaposition of the horrific black and white shots of the camps which are shown in between shots of the beautiful landscapes 10 years after the war ended. Not only does it add emphasis to what is happening on-screen but it also adds an indescribable beauty by highlighting hope after a terrible event. Some of the images that you will witness are disturbing and will stay with you, but that it what happens when you show the truth of the holocaust. Warehouses full of women’s hair, lifeless bodies dragged and thrown into trenches, the blank eyes of the dead. All I can say is prepare to look directly into hell.
There is one segment where the film shows SS members bring in bulldozers to push dozens of lifeless bodies into a large trench. In most films you see dead bodies as people with makeup, but here you have the real deal. You see people who are malnourished, pale, and truly lifeless. The impact that this scene had on me is immeasurable. Death is a dark and brooding part of the world that has the ability to horrify unlike anything else. This segment wouldn’t have the same impact if the film wasn’t the length that it is. While you are seeing real black and white shots of dead bodies you also have the lingering memory of beautiful shots of deep and luscious fields filled with life. Hence the drastic juxtaposition.
Another aspect of the documentary that adds to its overall quality is its narration. The descriptions and the writing fit the scenarios and complement the other aspects of the film perfectly. There is one quote that ends the film that particularly resonated with me. That quote was this: “We turn a blind eye to what surrounds us, and a deaf ear to the never-ending cry of humanity.” That quote truly encompasses what occurred during World War 2 and after the war. You have these people who want to ignore it and put it in the past, but that is not where it belongs. That was the purpose of this film. To document and show what happened and to make people aware, and it did.
What else is there to say about this film? The camera work is incredible, the images are mesmerizing, the narration and writing is top notch, and you will be enthralled with this bleak and realistic depiction of the trials and tribulations that the people in the concentration camps had to suffer through. With all of the masterful traits of the film there are so few things that someone could complain about, and if they chose to complain they would all be incredibly nitpicky at best.
This film is a masterpiece. Not just in the field of documentaries but in the field of overall film. It is an unparalleled look into the world of the jewish prisoner and it will allow you to develop a greater understanding of the holocaust while putting you into a state of shock.
Ladies and Gentlemen I give you: The power of film.
Side-note: I am changing my rating system to an out of 100 system rather than out of ten.
Night and Fog: 99/100