"Shoah" Is Released

Shoah is a nine-hour film completed by Claude Lanzmann in 1985 about the Holocaust (or Shoah). Though Shoah is conventionally classified as a documentary film, director Lanzmann considers it to fall outside of that genre, as, unlike most historical documentaries, the film does not feature reenactments or historical footage; instead it consists of interviews with people who were involved in various ways in the Holocaust, and visits to different places they discuss.

The creators of the brilliant French documentary Shoah courageously assume that their audience is willing to sit through 570 minutes' worth of interviews and little else. As unpromising as this sounds, rest assured that you will sit and listen. Relentless "inquisitor" Claude Lanzmann probes the memories of several survivors of the Holocaust--as well as several ex-Nazis who helped perpetrate the horrors. Gradually, one becomes aware that what happened in Germany and occupied Europe in the years 1933 through 1945 was not as "unthinkable" as it may seem to modern viewers; the recollections of those directly involved demonstrate all too well that it can happen anywhere at any time. One review of Shoah has carped that "it really could have been a bit shorter." No, it couldn't. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide