in about 100 words or less
Director: Claude Lanzmann; Cast: Simon Srebnik, Mordechaï Podchlebnik, Motke Zaidl, Hanna Zaidl, Jan Piwonski, Richard Glazar, Rudolf Vrba
Shoah is a sobering documentary that serves as a historical document for the holocaust as a whole, and as a personal testament for the survivors of Nazi Germany’s death camps. An unusual documentary, Shoah contains almost no historical footage, but rather, consists of first person interviews with victims, witnesses and German perpetrators. When the camera is not focused on the interviewees, the descriptions of their experiences are often accompanied by contemporary footage of the ruins in Treblinka, Chełmno and Auschwitz-Birkenau. In recording the personal stories of the survivors, Shoah is largely apolitical, and a record of their unimaginable circumstances. In the case of witnesses, and particularly those in Poland, Shoah becomes an indictment of complicity through inaction. The film’s vast running time of over nine hours is in large part due to the use of interpreters who translate the accounts into French. Though this mechanism effectively doubles the length of the film, it also provides pause for thought and provides a short distance for the viewer from the emotional distress which often accompanies the horrific personal accounts. An overwhelming viewing experience, Shoah is perhaps the single most important documentary film that will ever be made (Klaus Ming September 2016).