Nuit e brouillard
(1955) opens, in colour, on the ruins of Auschwitz and
Majdanek. Colour is the sign of the present. The ruins are traces of a past, a means of
entry to it, of remembering and imagining. The past in the film is represented in black
and white, by archival footage, that is, the past is cited. The film ends, once again in
colour, on the ruins of the camps.
Between the beginning and the end, the film moves back and forth between the two
times, the black and white of the past of what is remembered belonging to a store of
images, the colour of the present, the remembering, and the narrative that negotiates
between the past and an imagined future. Three different times then and an extraordinary
accumulation of details from diverse origins.
In the ruins of Auschwitz and Majdanek, the camera tracks through the landscape, the
gates, the fencing, the labyrinth of dormitories, latrines, torture chambers (hospitals),
crematoria. As in other Resnais films, there is an assemblage, an amassing of things,
objects. The way of presenting them is almost musical, as if it is set to a beat and tempo.
The newsreel actuality images,either interrupt the track of the camera (in the present)
halting it for an instant (in the past), or the track is continued between past and present,
elaborating a rhythm, as if scanning the past, and then returning to the present again,
seamless in movement, but distinct in time. In both instances of the continuous track over