"We survey these ruins with a heartfelt gaze, certain the old monster lies crushed beneath the rubble. We pretend to regain hope as the image recedes, as though we've been cured of that plague. We tell ourselves it was all confined to one country, one point of time. We turn a blind eye to what surrounds us and a deaf ear to the never-ending cries".
As the ironic, almost genteel tones of the voice-over narration start to crumble into aporia, the viewer is faced with the question whether it is a moral possibility for white European civilisation and culture to continue in the wake of the Holocaust. Resnais asks this question with absolute moral seriousness and absolute ambivalence, knowing the point at which representation snaps and one must bear silence, horribly
Some of the things I thought would bother me about did not. His streamlined approach here is effective, and I never felt like his signature formalism aestheticized the horrors of the camps. Instead, Night and Fog feels incredibly urgent, and Resnais's and Cayrol's warning to humanity, their attempt to comprehend how such evil can (and will continue to exist), is nauseatingly poignant.
Probably the best documentary made about the Holocaust, took Resnais some balls to make it just 10 years after the liberation, but it takes some balls to watch it as well. The image of dozens of emaciated skeletons being pushed by bulldozers is probably going to stick around for a couple of weeks, almost as shocking as the unwillingness to acknowledge responsibility seen in the final trial scenes.