Tuesday, January 27, 2015
"Night Will Fall" documents early filmmaking about the Holocaust
“Night Will Fall”, by Andre Singer, is a new documentary (2015, 77 minutes) about the lost film footage made by Sidney Bernstein and Alfred Hitchcock in 1945 as the Allies discovered the concentration camps when liberating Europe from the Nazis. The documentary would be called “Memory of the Camps” (70 minutes) and focused on the existential challenge to mankind’s future in civilized living, in that could degenerate into such animal-like brutality. The title of the film refers to how the Allies discovered the first camps: from the stench at night, but they didn’t really see it until broad daylight. Later, Billy Wilder would make a documentary short, “Death Mills”, which was more matter-of-fact, on the guilt of the Germans.
The film shows lots of graphic footage of the remains found by the Allies.
It also notes that the Nazis hoarded all the physical possessions of the prisoners, from toy trains to sewing needles, even to teeth with jaws removed. Much of the footage comes from Auschwitz-Birkenau, which I visited myself in May, 1999.
The film aired first on HBO Monday January 26, 2015. The official site is here. Today, January 27, is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (BBC story).
The title of the film recalls the book “Night” by Elie Wiesel, which is often read by high school students in translated, abridged form. Lesson plans for ninth-grade English (even with reading quizzes) used it a lot when I worked as a substitute teacher.
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of barracks at Birkenau, near Cracow, Poland (photo by Joshua Doubek, Creative Commons Share-Alike 3.0 unported). .