Short Films by Alain Resnais

Resnais's short films are a remarkable compendium of the philosophic and stylistic elements found in his features, and an important contribution to the distinguished French documentary film tradition. Guernica is “less an art film on Picasso than a documentary of the destruction and suffering of war, as expressed through paintings, drawings, and sculptures” (Georges Sadoul). Toute la mémoire du monde is Resnais in microcosm: time, space, and memory are the hidden subjects of a documentary on the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. The nature of African art, its sacred world of objects, and the efforts of Europeans to shape it in their own image are the subjects of Statues Also Die, a profoundly humanistic film that was banned for years. Commissioned by a polystyrene manufacturer to depict this “noble material . . . entirely created by man,” Resnais frightened his sponsors with Le chant de styrène, a surrealistic film set to a poem by Raymond Queneau and music by Pierre Barbaud. Night and Fog is an extraordinary study of the Nazi death camps, and the human capacity to remember and forget.

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