Night and Fog (1955) insists for the first time in French cinema on the necessity of facing the most repressed event of our collective unconscious: the Holocaust. Night and Fog depicts the horror of the concentration camps through intensely disturbing visual images that are almost unbearable to look at, while continually reminding the viewer that the images do not and cannot capture the truth of the past. The voice-over states: ‗How to discover the reality of these camps, when it was despised by all those who made them and eluded those who suffered there?‘ The film suggests that the sublime event is not only un-representable but in defiance of memory. In Night and Fog, history is presented not to capture the past but to create an awareness of present and future dangers. Night and Fog is one of the most straightforward films about the importance of remembering. There is the sense that in its dereliction, the decaying concentration camp, witness to many atrocities, remembers the past and the reasons for which it was built.
Night and Fog steps back to show a collective memory of trauma. It dialectically contrasts image with sound, past with present, and stasis with movement to set up a thematic tension between our responsibility to remember and the impossibility of doing so, between memory and oblivion or denial. Resnais, like a post-modernist reconstitutes reality only after fragmenting it. A clear comparison to A Story of a Bull by Picasso, or Bull by Roy Lichtenstein, showed during class lectures, can be drawn in this case. Moving from concrete evidence to general scenery, from fragmentation to universality and abstraction, the film never allows us to forget that the Holocaust concerned the extermination of millions of individuals. For a film with no characters or heroes, Night and Fog keeps the execution process basically dehumanized, turning its victims to collective signs for the Genocide.