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Shoah (1985)

Documentary | 566 minutes
4,05 304 votes

Genre: Documentary / War

Duration: 566 minuten

Country: France / United Kingdom

Directed by: Claude Lanzmann

Starst: Claude Lanzmann, Simon Srebnik and Michael Podchlebnik

IMDb score: 8,7 (10.429)

Releasedate: 21 April 1985

Shoah plot

Claude Lanzmann explores the histories and memories of several Holocaust survivors. Some ex-Nazis are also highlighted. Lanzmann mainly tries to clarify the circumstances at the time, so that one can get an idea of how the 'impossible' became possible more easily than one might think.

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avatar van coumi


  • 1391 messages
  • 11642 votes

Recorded this over a year ago and only had time this week to struggle through it. Was an acclaimed documentary at the time, but has lost some of its luster, despite the fact that it is still an interesting piece of work. It is good to note that Lanzmann is originally a philosopher, his working method with Shoah reminded me of my former philosophy teacher. During his lessons he often allowed long silences, in which we as students were expected to think with some depth about what had just been discussed. This works for some, while for others it mainly sets the laughter muscles in motion. Lanzmann also leaves a lot of room for his own interpretation of the images and is not a man who delivers bite-sized chunks.

Shoah is good, but could have been much better if it had been mounted more firmly and effectively. Of those nine hours, about three could have easily been done without this documentary losing its power. There are some gems of interviews, but because of the often far too long recordings/shots in between of things that are not too important in my opinion, they are almost destroyed. So for me, it was a unique viewing experience, which nevertheless aroused some conflicting feelings. It's a shame that style dominates the content here.

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avatar van Fisico

Fisico (moderator films)

  • 8163 messages
  • 4627 votes

I find it hard to rate a documentary. A tough one, on the one hand because of the long (and monotonous) playing time, on the other hand, of course, because of the highly charged theme. 35 years old now, but apart from the interesting testimonials not always easy to keep up with your thoughts. Storytelling has a lot to do with that. There is nothing more annoying than hearing someone speak, but meanwhile not knowing what he or she has to say. The translation is often done literally afterwards via an interpreter. It takes the momentum out of the documentary and the documentary could be a lot shorter.

The many testimonials in the documentary give a good impression of how people are still marked by these events so many years later. Mimicry and emotions come to the fore in this way. A big plus is that attention was paid to perpetrators, victims and spectators/local population. The testimonials are authentic, have not been cut or shortened. No or hardly any archive footage, no voice-over, everything starts from the interviewer and interviewee. Pure journalism and the complete Final Solution are discussed with the ghettos, the transports and finally the camps with its gas chambers.

Confronting documentary. Auschwitz is on my list to visit when my kids are a bit older. A documentary to cherish.

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avatar van Onderhond


  • 87189 messages
  • 11935 votes

Barely get through.

However, I found the design interesting. Let people who have experienced it up close tell their story, especially from a few perspectives (not just the classic stories of prisoners). But that is mainly on paper, in reality it is a lot less interesting.

It's because Lanzmann goes on endlessly about small details that don't really interest you that much. It's nice that you want to tell a detailed story, but people can hardly tell their story because they are pushed in a certain, uninteresting direction all the time.

The overdub/interpreter is also really dramatic. Indefensible as far as I'm concerned, I was always happy when there were pieces where interviews could be conducted in a normal way. It also slows down the film endlessly, while it is already a slow affair.

The disconsolate cinematography must have been chosen for the effect, but after a while I got tired of seeing it. A nice shot here and there, but also mostly dry registrations. The subject remains, that's where the documentary stands or falls for most I guess. To be honest, it couldn't really fascinate me anymore, but it is also a subject that has already been made a lot of docus.

The length will also be taken into account in the valuation, that is often the case with these types of projects, but this time I really had to go through a number of stages.


dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original