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Night and Fog: Making of a classic documentary

By David Luhrssen
Shepherd Express

Night and Fog (Sylvie Lindeperg)In Night and Fog: A Film in History (University of Minnesota Press), Sorbonne history professor Sylvie Lindeperg explores the potential of film (and all the arts by extension) to make visible things that had been unseen. Night and Fog helped crystalize the public impression of the Nazi death industry, which had been left unclear amidst the postwar debris and the necessity of getting on with life.

Lindeperg understands the film as a collaboration of minds and sensibilities in tandem—Resnais’ editing of the footage; composer Hanns Eisler’s tone-setting music; the sparse narration by poet Jean Cayrol; and most of all, the research by historian Olga Wormser-Migot. Perhaps the brilliance of Night and Fog arose in part from the conflicting visions of its authors, a creative tension that somehow allowed each key contributor to have his way without excluding the visions of the others.

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