Claude Lanzmann - Shoah

Here is the complete text of Claude Lanzmann's film, whose publication will coincide with the American release, following the successful launching in Paris. With all that has been written about the Holocaust, Shoah is an extraordinary achievement. The result of years of research, the nine-and-a-half-hour film is an oral history of the Holocaust that brings together a full range of witnesses: the SS officers who served in the death camps; the Polish villagers who tilled their fields within yards of the crematoriums; the Germans who resettled occupied Poland, moving into the houses whose Jewish owners had been sent to their death; the state employee who sold Jews half-fare excursion tickets to the camps -one way; Western scholars of the Holocaust. And then there are the survivors themselves: a Polish barber who cut the hait of women he knew were to die in the next few minutes; a thirteen-year-old boy who was to work in the death camp's "special squad"; the Pole who was taken into the Warsaw ghetto so that he could report to the outside world what her had seen; a woman who lived in hiding in Berlin for most of the war, in anguish at the fate of her people and her own escape from it.
The film shows no archival footage, and it is through the words themselves that the imagination recreates the world described in these words -a way of getting at the truth that is far more shocking than the depiction of actual images. Shoah is unforgettable, and it is destined to become a landmark of film and history.

"Shoah is not an easy film to talk about. There is a magic in this film that defies explanation. After the war, we read masses of accounts of the ghettos and the extermination camps, and we were devastated. But when we see today Claude Lanzmann's extraordinary film, we realize we have understood nothing. In spite of everything we knew, the ghastly experience remained remote from us. Now, for the first time, we live it in our minds, and hearts and flesh. It becomes our experience." Simone de Beauvoir, from the Preface

"Shoah is not just one more film about the Holocaust. Its goal is unique, selective and single-minded: to describe in ruthless detail the inhuman bureaucratic machinery of the Final Solution during the years 1942-1944... There is an unforgettably sinister beauty to the footage Lanzmann took in Poland, and there is art in the way he has edited it... like refrains in a terrifying epic poem." Variety

ISBN: 0-394-55142-7

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