Day 213: Nuit el brouillard 1955 + ‘Broken Hill 8th Day’

Nuit el brouillard  1955

In my lifetime I have seen many, and will see many more, disturbing films: but not to this extent. The English translation is Night and Fog (1956).

This film is a documentary that incorporates footage the Germans photographed themselves of what they were doing and what they were attempting to do in their efforts to exterminate the Jews. Specifically the Jews that they were in close proximity to – European Jews. It shows the men building the concentration camps to house the Jews and the men building the ovens to burn the Jews as well as the men disposing of the bodies. I know equally bad things are happening in countries around the world as governments or dictatorships try to wipe out the people who view or perceive the world differently from them, or who are so numerous that there is no worth or acceptable cost to saving them. But this is the most vivid footage.

I sat in Broken Hill in a lovely motel while it rained and rained outside watching images of horror rain down on me over the short period of thirty-two minutes, showing Hitler’s plans, and the execution of his plans, for European Jewry.

What my eyes saw… what my brain comprehended… what my spirit experienced… was… and here I paused for about two minutes searching for the next couple of words… was… the most awful thing I’ve ever had the misfortune and the privilege to see.

Until you see the burned but surviving skeletons of tens of thousands of Jews being bulldozed into pits that are so wide and so deep – and yet aren’t wide enough or deep enough to contain the sheer number of bodies – you were where I was 32-minutes ago.

I’m crying as I write this, tears pouring down my cheeks, because my brain still finds it hard to fathom what went on. The monsters in our worst dreams are actually not as bad as the monsters who history confirms were real.

It’s beyond description to try and describe the things that I saw in this documentary which my eyes can now never ever unsee.

One reads about the attempted extermination of the Jews in books or on the internet, and they are, at their most fundamental level, just words and figures until you see the untold number of bodies piled on top of each other like the trash that the garbage trucks are collecting tomorrow outside the front of our houses.

‘Broken Hill 8th Day’

If it’s Monday, I Must Be in Broken Hill.

Mistimed my leaving time from Bourke, my breaks, my time stopping to film in 4k, and arrived late in the evening, a few minutes before check-in closed at 8.30pm. Luckily they were on South Australian time.

I hadn’t yet twigged that for every minute I pull over to film something I’m two-kms behind schedule. If I pull over for ten minutes to set up a few creative shots, then I’m twenty kms behind schedule. If I do that 10 times then I’m two hundred kilometres behind schedule. Woops.

Having arrived alive, yet again, while travelling after dusk, I had a couple of beers, unpacked, recharged the cameras, the phone, the iPads and downloaded the video to my external harddrives. Then I put on a movie.

If you’d told me – I know, I know, I’m repeating myself – that I was going to see my first Alain Resnais film in Broken Hill I would have called you a liar.

Being, that I don’t know what any of these new films are about before I watch them I had no idea what I was letting myself in for with Nuit et brouillard (1955). I chose it because it was 33-minutes long and I wanted to get to bed before 1am.