Night and Fog and the State
“Even a peaceful landscape…even a meadow in harvest, with crows circling overhead and grass fires…even a road where cars and peasants and couples pass…even a resort village with a steeple and country fair…can lead to a concentration camp.” So begins the narration of the most devastating documentary film ever made.
Before Hollywood determined it takes at least three hours to effectively grapple with the Holocaust — a Schindler’s List or a Pianist, for example — long before, some four decades and more, there was Alain Renais’ 31-minute Night and Fog.
I first saw and was shattered by this remarkable short movie while in college in 1975. I’ve just seen Night and Fog a second time, because Criterion recently released a new digital restoration of it on DVD. And 28 years later, Renais’ film remains for me not only a chilling record of Hitler’s "final solution" but the most powerful cinematic indictment of the State I’ve ever seen.