Shoah (4pc) (Sub) (Bilingual) [Import]
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To write a review of a film such as Shoah seems an impossible task: how to sum up one of the most powerful discourses on film in such a way as to make people realize that this is a documentary of immense consequence, a documentary that is not easy to watch but important to watch, a documentary that not only records the facts, but bears witness. We are commanded "Never forget"; this film helps us to fulfill that mandate, reverberating with the viewer long after the movie has ended. Yes, Holocaust films are plentiful, both fictional and non-, with titles such as The Last Days, Schindler's List, and Life Is Beautiful entering the mainstream. But this is not a film about the Holocaust per se; this is a film about people. It's a meandering, nine-and-a-half-hour film that never shows graphic pictures or delves into the political aspects of what happened in Europe in the 1930s and '40s, but talks with survivors, with SS men, with those who witnessed the extermination of 6 million Jews.
Director Claude Lanzmann spent 11 years tracking people down, cajoling them to talk, asking them questions they didn't want to face. When soldiers refuse to appear on film, Lanzmann sneaks cameras in. When people are on the verge of breaking down and can't answer any more questions, Lanzmann asks anyway. He gives names to the victims--driving through a town that was predominantly Jewish before Hitler's time, a local points out which Jews owned what. Lanzmann travels the world, speaking to workers in Poland, survivors in Israel, officers in Germany. He is not a detached interviewer; his probings are deeply personal. One man farmed the land upon which Treblinka was built. "Didn't the screams bother you?" Lanzmann asks. When the farmer seems to brush the issues aside with a smile, Lanzmann's fury is noticeable. "Didn't all this bother you?" he demands angrily, only to be told, "When my neighbor cuts his thumb, I don't feel hurt." The responses, the details are difficult to hear, but critical nonetheless. Shoah tells the story of the most horrifying event of the 20th century, not chronologically and not with historical detail, but in an even more important way: person by person. --Jenny Brown --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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It answers the question: Why could this global tragedy happen? It also answers the question: Who were these people who committed the atrocities and where were all the people who bore witness?
The movie asks these questions of the real people who we want to know the answers from. Mr. Lanzman interviews the wife of a concentration camp commandant. Her attitude and her carefully chosen words speak volumes for what she doesn't say. She embodies evil to the nth degree. Her lack of empathy and gross disdain for the 10,000s of Jews that her husband murdered makes you sick to your stomach. And yet she is not guilty of anything more than being an accessory to mass murder and she has never spent a day of her life paying for the sins of her husband. She complains that her life after the war has been hard on her. She wants our pity.
Mr. Lanzman interviews a peasant who lived along the rail line to Birkenau and Auschwitz. The jolly old peasant was proud of how he gesticulated to the hapless souls in the packed railcars how they would have their throats slit soon enough. The peasant made fun of how he convinced many a desparate Jew to throw him their jewelry in exchange for a cup of water - only to not give the Jew the promised water.
There is no ray of hope. There is no triumph of good over evil.Read more ›
Claude Lanzmann gives us a history of the Holocaust from the point of view of the participants. The survivors, the guards, the townspeople who witnessed the Final Solution firsthand. The thing that makes the film amazing is that we do not see the grisly images that were so prevalent in films like Renais Night and Fog. We simply hear voices and see faces.
The interview technique is what makes this film so important. We are forced to look into these people's faces as they tell their stories. And they do have important stories to tell. Also we literally visit the places of destruction as they are now. We see green meadows that were once killing grounds like Sobibor or Chelmno. We see the village of Grabow now reduced of its Jewish population; we bear witness to the railside horrors of Treblinka, and the haunting desolation that was and is Auschwitz.
The startling thing is that the people of the film have been able to rebuild their lives and go on. This is the triumph of the film. We hear horrible things to be sure but these people are true survivors.
The DVD does not offer many extras, but then not many are needed. The end result is a sort of numb silence and this prevades the viewing. The transfer could have been a little clearer but I feel that this was more of a flaw in the source footage than a problem in the DVD creation. The only real problem with my set was on the fourth disc where there were numerous sound fall outs.
All in all Shoah is not an easy film to watch. It takes patience and careful listening if one is to truly understand but it should be regarded as essential viewing for any would be student of history.
It's a painful suject matter to follow even after so many years (I had seen the program on PBS when it was presented originally in the 80's) New books and movies have been presnted since this documantory was made but none to my knowledge attack the subject from the angle used by Claude Lanzmann.....les us not forget........AM
Most recent customer reviews
What a masterpiece! Documentary acclaimed world-wide! The history of the holocaust is the example of how some political extremists can set up a military system and brain-washed... Read morePublished on July 9 2013 by Gilles Dupuis
In english. the only problem with this import is that the plastic used for the case smells of death. Cheaper than the alternative which was $300.Published on April 19 2013 by EB
A truly excellent piece of film making. The film does not attempt to impress upon us savage facts about the holocaust - the sheer magnitude that is beyond intelligibility - but... Read morePublished on March 1 2013 by Love Books
Quel film que Shoah de Claude Lanzmann.! Je le cherchais depuis des années et mes efforts sont couronnés. Read morePublished on Dec 8 2012 by monique adam
I first viewed this documentary in 1982 and its message remained with me all these years..could not get it out of my mind. Read morePublished on May 3 2012 by rosamunde
I bought this collection of dvds a long time ago and glad I did as hard to find now at any price.Being so hard to find my wife says that having watched them a number of times I... Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2012 by Johnny Boy
This first aired on PBS sometime in the early to mid eighties. I was in my first couple of years of college at the time. Read morePublished on July 15 2004 by Dexter W. Shook
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