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Shoah [VHS]

48 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Claude Lanzmann
  • Language: English, French, German, Hebrew, Polish, Yiddish
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Cavalier
  • VHS Release Date: 10 Oct. 1994
  • Run Time: 550 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CPEL
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 504,813 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Claude Lanzmann's epic and acclaimed documentary about the Holocaust builds up a horrifying picture of the Nazi extermination camps taken almost entirely from interviews with both survivors and former guards.

From Amazon.co.uk

To write a review of a film such as Shoah seems an impossible task: how to sum up one of the most powerful discourses on film in such a way as to make people realise that this is a documentary of immense consequence, a documentary that is not easy to watch but important to watch, a documentary that not only records the facts but bears witness. We are commanded "Never forget"; this film helps us to fulfil that mandate, reverberating with the viewer long after the movie has ended. Yes, Holocaust films are plentiful, both fictional and non-, with titles such as The Last Days, Schindler's List and Life Is Beautiful entering the mainstream. But this is not a film about the Holocaust per se; this is a film about people. It's a meandering, nine-and-a-half-hour film that never shows graphic pictures or delves into the political aspects of what happened in Europe in the 1930s and 40s but talks with survivors, with SS men, with those who witnessed the extermination of 6 million Jews.

Director Claude Lanzmann spent 11 years tracking people down, cajoling them into talking, asking them questions they didn't want to face. When soldiers refuse to appear on film, Lanzmann sneaks cameras in. When people are on the verge of breaking down and can't answer any more questions, Lanzmann asks anyway. He gives names to the victims--driving through a town that was predominantly Jewish before Hitler's time, a local points out which Jews owned what. Lanzmann travels the world, speaking to workers in Poland, survivors in Israel, officers in Germany. He is not a detached interviewer; his probings are deeply personal. One man farmed the land upon which Treblinka was built. "Didn't the screams bother you?" Lanzmann asks. When the farmer seems to brush the issues aside with a smile, Lanzmann's fury is noticeable. "Didn't all this bother you?" he demands angrily, only to be told, "When my neighbour cuts his thumb, I don't feel hurt." The responses, the details are difficult to hear but critical nonetheless. Shoahtells the story of the most horrifying event of the 20th century, not chronologically and not with historical detail, but in an even more important way: person by person. --Jenny Brown

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. J. Bradshaw on 19 Sept. 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
An extraordinary achievement and a film of immense power and impact, for anybody with an interest in history this is a film that demands attention and viewing. The film is based around interviews and avoids using archive footage and derives its remarkable power from the simplicity and drama of the interviews. The film adds a human dimension and raw emotional power which complements written history, it does not replace such history but does expand the overall understanding of this ghastly event by focusing on human experiences. For those wanting to develop a full appreciation of the Holocaust I would recommend Raul Hilberg's incomparable "The Destruction of the European Jews" (Hilberg features in the film) along with some of the works of scholars such as Christopher R Browning, Ian Kershaw and Henry Friedlander however "Shoah" adds an emotional impact and brings the tragedy to the level of individuals with whom the viewer can connect. Or to put it another way, it removes tragedy from statistics which can leave us numbed to a human story which is more tragic for allowing us to connect with recognisable individuals. There are many times in the film where tears come to my eyes and the film is an emotional journey which leaves a lasting impression and impact.
The film is essential viewing however whilst it holds my attention I can appreciate that it may be seem as somewhat daunting by some given the length and simplicity of the film. The very simplicity which gives the film its emotional power may be seen as off putting by many.
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160 of 168 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Jan. 2007
Format: DVD
There have been many dramas and documentaries of what happened in the death camps of WWII but put altogether they would not cut as deeply or inform so completely as 'Shoah'.

Covering in particular Chelmno,(where Jews were 1st killed by gas in vans), to Treblinka, Auschwitz, Birkenau and the Warsaw ghetto Lanzemann does not embellish or re-enact anything, he simply films as survivors, perpertrators and bystanders all tell how they see what happened. I say see and not saw because many have convinced themselves of their own innocence by dismissing what happened. It is for this reason that 'Shoah' needs to be so long in running time, everyone has their own skewed perspective for whatever reason and it is only when enough evidence is gathered from so many differing sides and personalities that you can begin to see a little of what happened.

Bystanders who had rather seen the Jews returned to Israel but were glad to see them go nonetheless, guards "following orders" and a general apathy to one of humanities greatest crimes.

At over 9 hours this is a huge work and requires you to sit through heartbreaking interviews over and over again.

The truth is though that in a society where we are becoming jealous and resentful of those who are not us or do not believe what we do this account is a stark reminder of just how quickly and terribly humans can turn on each other on a massive scale if we allow ourselves to de-humanize others.

I love films but I cannot think of a single other that HAS to be seen. This is without peer and is essential.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. King on 26 April 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As a history student, one that has concentrated on the first and second world wars, this documentary is up there with the World at War. A fabulous and informative piece showing some aspects of the Holocaust I had not seen before; an insight into the very unpleasant attitudes and reactions of those who were involved and those who stood on the sidelines.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By woppit on 2 Dec. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first came became aware of this DVD collection while at university (it was then 20 videos). The word SHOAH means Holocaust, so if you are interested in learning more about the atrocities that occurred to the Jews during WWII you must watch this. It is an extremely long show that has a lot of subtitles. Subtitles have put me off in the past from purchasing DVDs but DO NOT let it put you off as the majority of the documentary is in English. Shoah has never been seen on TV before and it is a shame as there is so much to learn from it. I recommend this DVD and the price is fantastic. Beware its so harrowing that you will need plenty of tissue.

The item was packaged well and received it before the due date. Thanks
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Dixon on 24 Sept. 2009
Format: DVD
A must for anyone interested in the Holocaust. I first this when it was shown on TV and was taken aback by it. In places its not easy to watch but must be watched. There is an interview in a bar with a balding man who is serving beers and hes asked how many beers do you sell a day and he wont answer eventually he does and then strikes up a conversation with the director of the film about how busy he is and how long he's been working there - then the bomb-shell he's asked if he recognising a SS man Christian Wirth, the Death Camp inspector and then he asks the man by name Mr. Oberhauser were you at Belzec, can I ask you about Belzec. Herr Oberhauser walks away. Fantastic viewing. A real must
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