It is said that Nouvelle Vague started in the late 1950s, but it seems to me that Nuit et Brouillard (1955) is its prelude. Resnais made a different movie, a different documentary to any “classical” one. Nuit et Brouillard has nothing to do, for instance, with the propaganda documentaries the Germans made in the same years.
This film is indeed an expository documentary, is the voice of Michel Bouquet which convinces us of Resnais’ ideology. Watching it, the first thing that comes to mind is the editing, it is such quick editing. He is not looking for climax or drama. You don’t get enough time to take pleasure in morbid details, and the transitions obey an aesthetic rule. Just the voice, the silence, and the music guide us. It is not about what it shows, it is about what are you thinking while watching it.
Nevertheless, as the minutes fade away, you also realize how much power the imagery has. In this film there are really hair-raising images, some of them unpublished until then. They are so strong that Bouquet is getting quiet. There are silences more often. You have more time to think about it and to get scared while thinking. Images speak for themselves.
One of the longest scenes in the whole movie is a mountain of hair. Just hair, but it is really blood-curdling. The same thing happens with the mountain of shoes. Afterwards decapitated heads and dead bodies appear, and Resnais does not stop as much as he has done with hair, but he does show it, because there are real images of Holocaust.
And naturally, the movie finishes with black.