Twelve years in the making, Shoah is Lanzmann’s monumental epic on the Holocaust and features interviews with survivors, bystanders, and perpetrators in 14 countries. The film does not contain any historical footage but rather features interviews which seek to “reincarnate” the Jewish tragedy and also visits places where the crimes took place. It grew out of Lanzmann’s concern that the genocide perpetrated only 40 years earlier was already retreating into the mists of time, and that atrocity was becoming sanitized as History.
His massive achievement – at once epic and intimate, immediate and definitive – is a triumph of form and content that reveals hidden truths while rewriting the rules of documentary filmmaking. 35 years after its original release, Shoah remains nothing less than essential.