Customer Reviews


36 Reviews
5 star:
 (29)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary achievement
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...
Published 5 months ago by J. J. Bradshaw

versus
17 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not quite the event claimed?
I have not seen this 9 hour long documentary until 2012 so some 30 odd years have passed since it was originally made and issued. Maybe a lot of the new research (especially in the last decade by German and non-German historians) on how the German strategy towards Jews and other chosen races (notably the gypsies of Eastern Europe who always seem to be ignored under such...
Published on 1 Oct. 2012 by Siriam


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary achievement, 19 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shoah (4 Disc Set & 184 Page Book Special Edition Box Set) [DVD] [1985] (DVD)
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. There are also questions over the portrayal of Pole's, that some Pole's were implicated or tacitly accepted/approved of the Holocaust is a matter of record yet it is also a matter of record that non-Jewish Pole's suffered terribly and that many non-Jewish Pole's tried to assist Jews despite the extreme risks involved. Whilst the film presents one aspect of Polish attitudes viewers should be aware that it is a particular perspective of a much more complex part of the Holocaust story.
There is an irony in that after making a film which has became almost required viewing for anybody which an interest in the Holocaust he is famously averse to any attempt to explain Hitler and the Holocaust. This contradictory attitude of spending years on a labour of love to captur and communicate the horrors of the Holocaust and then denouncing attempts to explain those same events strikes me as both odd and disappointing however it does not detract from the film.
Technically the discs are well produced with good subtitles although it should be realised that the original production was rather basic and lacked cinematic polish which is reflected in the DVD. The book which comes with the set is genuinely informative and interesting and is very far removed from the sort of written material normally associated with box sets, it does add depth to the viewers understanding of the film.
How to rate a film like this is difficult In a sense rating is an empty and pointless question. The film is a valuable historical document and for any student of the Holocaust it is pretty much essential viewing. As such it has a power and importance that means it will be considered a historical asset for as long as people study the subject and any rating is irrelevant. As a film it is not beyond criticism and to be realistic a film of this length and simplicity is not going to be appealing to some. My main concern is the Polish question which does trouble me. As a complement to good written history this is not so serious but for viewers depending on the film to inform them of the Holocaust this is troubling. So I give it four stars, in many ways I'd rate at five stars plus but I do have some reservations which in no way detract from my admiration and respect for the film.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


158 of 166 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memory is all, 23 Jan. 2007
By 
Amazon Customer "Boo62" (Ilkeston Derbyshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Shoah (4 Disc Set & 184 Page Book Special Edition Box Set) [DVD] [1985] (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shoah, 26 April 2012
By 
Mr. M. King "Mozziebear" (NE London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shoah (4 Disc Set & 184 Page Book Special Edition Box Set) [DVD] [1985] (DVD)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 24 Sept. 2009
By 
J. E. Dixon - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shoah (4 Disc Set & 184 Page Book Special Edition Box Set) [DVD] [1985] (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
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must, 4 Jun. 2010
By 
M. F. P. Pateman (Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shoah 4-DVD Set (DVD)
A must for all to see, especially the younger generations. The most disturbing and real version of how the holocaust really effected the suffering and those surrounding the camps.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immensely powerful! Required viewing on the Holocaust., 18 Nov. 2002
By A Customer
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shoah [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Immensely powerful, disturbing, accurate and heart-rending. The most absorbing production relating to the Holocaust that I have seen.
Here the horrors of the Holocaust are presented by real people in real time. Holocaust survivors, their captors, torturers & executioners are all interviewed on camera.
Any detachment that the reader might have felt in reading books on the subject is destroyed as everything comes to life before your eyes. To actually see apparently 'ordinary' human beings who were responsible for such atrocities, speak about these events with such 'matter of fact', carefree abandon makes one's blood run cold.
This footage is all the more real to me, having personally visited most of the concentration camps referred to and having seen at first hand what is being referred to. Nevertheless, this footage will shock even the most hardened viewer & educate the least informed amongst us on the subject. It really is a 'must view' on the Holocaust.
It is quite lengthy, some 9 hours in all & with subtitles, yet this does not diminish from it's veracity and impact. It is such a shame that this production is not required viewing in our schools. We all need to be educated about this period in our not so recent history, before it happens again.
Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST, 2 Dec. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shoah (4 Disc Set & 184 Page Book Special Edition Box Set) [DVD] [1985] (DVD)
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
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the Finest Documentary, 11 July 2005
From the opening interviews right through to the train dissapearing into the distance at the end - this Documentary is the finest ever filmed. It brings together survivors and perpetrators and shows us moving images of the Camps in their present state (1985 - the time of the original release)
Mr Lanzmann is an unrelenting unstoppable interviewer.
One can never forget the Scenes of The Old Camp worker with his Pointing stick motioning proudly at his Diagram of Treblinka and the Train guard motioning that this would be the end of the line...
Recollections and accounts from guards survivors and civillians make this an incredible , engrossing film.
Shocking, Disturbing - this Film should be shown in every school studying this terrible era of History.
This documentary is Highly reccomended - I beleive it to be the greatest work of its type in the history of the world.
Take one viewing and Im sure you will agree.
Mr Lanzmann should be celebrated for such an incredible acheivement.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shoah, A must-see documentary never to be forgotten, 28 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Shoah (4 Dvd) (DVD)
This box set is compulsive and compulsary viewing for everyone. I quote from Thuricides funeral speech to Pericles" For the whole earth is the tomb of brave men".
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shoah: A Documentary of Human Nature, 17 July 2006
By 
Mr. R. W. Jackson "Richard Jackson" (Lancashire, England.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A mistake before watching Claude Lanzmann's `Shoah,' is to begin by thinking it is the epitome of Holocaust representation, that it isn't comparable with anything else. The nature and arrangement of the film stems from the filmmakers' own personal opinion of how a film dealing with an issue as delicate of the Holocaust should be. A judgement of excellence detracts from the subject's nature and Lanzmann's intent; `Shoah' is not for purposes of entertainment. Lanzmann's own decree that the film isn't either a documentary or representational adds to the confusion that arises whilst watching `Shoah.' It makes you ask what is the purpose of the film? A documentary would imply informing the audience, and `Shoah' does do this for hearing the experiences lived by others makes the film to an extent learnedly enlightening, however as Lanzmann keeps the film in the present he does succeed in his aim of not making the Holocaust an historical event. The film allows and encourages grief, as evident in the people that he interviews through the course of the film, working through or acting out in their plea to forget the event, after-all who would want to remember an experience such as this? I believe Lanzmann understands this, and the holocaust should be a burden of the people who didn't experience it, those who did should be allowed to forget, however the memory of the holocaust should never die particularly in Western civilisation in which Lanzmann criticises. Similarly to the opinion of Blanchot and Levenas, the West has an obligation to remember. As stated before, `Shoah' should not be considered the greatest of all Holocaust films, the fact that a Holocaust film could be classified as `great' would displease Lanzmann I believe. His self-label of his film as a `fiction of the real,' not a representational piece makes the film unique, and it should be considered this way in a separate category to both art and history. Personal opinion is central to representation and the Holocaust so your own view is never right; this though is how I myself interpret `Shoah.'

The structure of `Shoah' is not one of consistency. Individual interviews and trauma experiences do not begin and end in the same scenes; if that was the case it would just be a series of interviews in a row neatly presented. The confusion surrounding the Holocaust in the sense that you can't imagine the experiences of the victims makes your empathy clouded and disorganised, from this point of view `Shoah' aligns itself with the feelings I had originally. When do you start a film concerning the Final Solution, with the origins of European anti-Semitism, Mien Kampf or with the first sufferings of the Jewish people? `Shoah' does not concern itself with the origins, it highlights the banality of the process of mass extermination, put it does not explain the beginnings - Lanzmann states Nazism has been discussed, the purpose of `Shoah' was to show those who experienced it. The eeriness of the Final Solution is the bureaucratic way it was completed, the efficiency and organisation in which it panned out (for example the term `factory-line' is used). The disunity of `Shoah' has it relating to the victims not the perpetrators, as Lanzmann explains, "The six million assassinated Jews did not die in their own good time and that's why any work that today wants to do justice to the Holocaust must take as its first principle to break with chronology." The film deals with individuals, victims, perpetrators and witnesses; secondary and primary sources. We watch many experiences, becoming more tragic and emotive as the film progresses. To emphasise this if you had a circle of experiences Lanzmann deals with the meniscus first before working itself into the centre, the heart of the trauma. All scenes concerning the Holocaust are difficult to watch, but it is the way Lanzmann builds up to the people in the film actually breaking down that remains the most touching.

A variety of locations are used within the film. In place of archive footage of concentration and extermination camps scenes involve the site where the events took place in the past, for example at Treblinka in Poland whilst interviewing a town's lady she directs Lanzmann to the location of the gas chambers. The place of the massacre is still with us, so therefore the event will live on and the viewer is a part of the story whilst looking at these scenes. Despite that fact archive footage is not used in `Shoah' scenes in the film are similar to those in other holocaust representation films, for example train carriages pulling away from stations, and railway lines that seem to descend into nothing. This occurs all the way through the picture and I must say I felt it was tedious at times, however this usually occurs whilst someone is speaking, at the beginning of an emotive conversation so it is not the most important part of scenes where the imagery appears. Interviews are also conducted in people's homes, ranging from Israel to New York and Berlin. The aftermath of the Shoah occurs all over the world. In the homes of the people involved or at the location in which filming occurs, even a staged barber shop scene the camera will pan around the room, an insight into the individuals post-war lives and shows the different characters that they all are.

The first description of the horror that occurred in extermination camps with `Shoah,' begins in the Polish town of Chelmo. This is the place where gas was first used in the mass extermination of the Jewish people. This shows that you can learn from `Shoah,' as Chelmo was different to the gas chambers at Aushwitz or Treblinka because the victims were loaded into gas vans. Gas would be fed into these vans and then they would drive into a forest and dispose of the bodies in mass graves. In this scene Mordechai Podchlebnik tells Lanzmann how he was forced to unload the bodies from the gas vans at Chelmo, and the shocking event of how he discovered the bodies of his wife and children whilst doing this. This scene was discomforting for me, I had never seen or heard a testimony such as this and had much more of an effect than if I had seen it in a movie production; I relate to the liquidation of the ghetto in `Schindler's List,' whilst that is horrific it will not stay with me as much as Mordechai Podchlebnik's tale will. This is Lanzmann's film succeeds and gains superiority over others.

Lanzmann:' How did he react, the first time he unloaded corpses, when the gas doors where opened?'

Translator for Mordechai (in tears): 'What could he do? He cried. The third day he saw his wife and children. He placed his wife in the grave and asked to be killed. The Germans said he was strong enough to work, that he wouldn't be killed yet.'

The subsequent scene involves two other men Motke Zaidel and Itzhak Dugin, originally from Vilna in Lithuania. The majority of the Jewish population in Vilna were murdered in Ponari forest by firing squad and then thrown into mass graves. The interview with the two gentlemen is conducted in Israel where they now reside (a translator is also used as they speak in Hebrew but not featured here).

Lanzmann: `So it was they who dug up and burned all the Jews of Vilna?'

Zaidal: `Yes. In early January 1944 we began digging up the bodies.'

Dugin: `When the last grave was opened I recognised my whole family.

Lanzmann: `Which members of his family did he recognise?'

Dugin: `Mom and my sisters. Three sisters with their kids. They were all in there.'

Lanzmann: `How could he recognise them?'

Dugin: `They'd been in the earth four months, and it was winter. They were very well preserved. So I recognised their faces, their clothes too.'

These two exerts are interviews at the very start of the film, though I have included them in this summery because they are the ones that have stayed with my mind. `Shoah' is also a nine hour film, it is not possible to describe every film and scene that takes place, and this emphasises the magnitude of the production and how emotionally laden it is. These two scenes for me summarise the trauma you share with the victims in the film.

Another scene in the film of a different nature is equally moving, not by the content but how Lanzmann acts in the situation. The section with Franz Schomel a member of the SS has him being interviewed by Lanzmann, however he is not aware of this and has only agreed to speak with Lanzmann with this knowledge and on the condition his name won't be used. Lanzmann makes his contempt known for Schomel by including this in his film, but also in a humorous moment when Schomel asks Lanzmann not to use his name this and his rank (SS Unterscharfurer) appears on the screen. There is just criticism of this act. I would imagine the vast majority of the audience would have an element of revulsion towards this man, and knowing who he is does not add anything to the effect of his words. Franz Suchomel was stationed in Treblinka, and discusses how the problem of over production, or rather excess murder, occurred. Suchomel relates how it was difficult for him and other SS officers to carry out their duties. However Lanzmann does not allow us to have any sympathy for him, and mocks the very notion that he could be sincerely sorry for his actions. The idea that he could be too a victim of pressure from higher ranking Nazi's is dismissed, he didn't stop what he was doing as some did so therefore he cannot be innocent. Suchomel wasn't charged for his crimes, so naming him won't occur an legal problem however he is only speaking to Lanzmann with the understanding of trust, and whether Lanzmann is right to break this is debatable.

Lanzmann's method of dealing with trauma combines both the working through and acting out theories. The interviews no doubt are examples of working through the trauma, in agreement with the theory of La Capra that this is the key way to overcome trauma. However, during the film a number of holocaust survivors are taken back to where their suffering took place and indeed the emotion they feel from this, `reliving' as it were, which taking them back to the trauma site is also necessary for working through pain, though this could be critiqued in that won't intense working through then ignite a need to act out their past experiences? I relate here when Lanzmann brings Simon Srebnik a holocaust survivor back to Chelmo. In order to make the point background into his case must be known. Whilst in Chelmo Simon was a favourite captive amongst the SS there, as a boy of 13 they used to make him sing for them, however at attempt execution was made against him and he was shot through the head, miraculously he survived. He was also popular amongst the Polish villagers there and whilst he is being interviewed in Poland he is shown amongst them. There is footage in the film of Strebnik sailing on the river and singing, isn't this acting out at an early stage and should Lanzmann be prompting this for the purpose of film? Ethically `Shoah' has been questioned negatively for forcing people to relive their trauma; this can also be transferred to whether it is right to subject an audience to this. To emphasis the trauma of the holocaust though this is undoubtedly the most effective way. Lanzmann has stated that reliving trauma in this extreme confrontational fashion removes any `escape-hatches' for the victim, so they have no choice but to work through the ordeal whilst acting out is the `escape-hatch.' The intrusive nature of Lanzmann though causing the victim to become re-traumatised is a questionable technique, and La Capra even labels it as `sadistic.' The audience shares the traumatic experience reaffirming that the holocaust (and indeed Lanzmann's wish) is a contemporary issue and not an historical one.

If you relate `Shoah' to other forms of Holocaust representation I believe it to be the most effective I have seen. If you take Blanchot's or Lacanian thought then `Shoah' is in agreement with their theory that no fiction should be created from the Holocaust. This decreases the value of films such as `Sophie's Choice' and the `Nightporter.' These are fictional films dealing with Holocaust trauma. `Sophie's Choice' has the main character in denial about experience in Auschwitz, as she won't discuss them until the end - only when she trusts someone can she begin to work through her trauma. Alternatively the `Nightporter' has the key characters `acting out' the trauma they endured together in a concentration camp. As mentioned earlier `Shoah' is in a genre of its own, and comparing real life situations to those created for fictional entertainment is not, in my opinion, a just thing to do. Fictional representation can be used to help us understand the nature of trauma and provide a different insight into it; however the empathy you feel as you watch `Shoah' surpasses anything else, even the written word. When discussing `Shoah' the very magnitude of it means it should be considered last whilst writing about representation, as comparison to other films makes you realise the worth of Lanzmann's film. A point was made that personal trauma allows you to understand `Shoah' better, you can relate to the victims in the film. As I have never experience any real trauma (for example none of my relatives have died) there may be another level to this film that I cannot access, however I do emphasise and understand this theory. After `Shoah' there can be no Holocaust deniers, and if the film achieves anything then it should be to silence these people.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Shoah (4 Disc Set & 184 Page Book Special Edition Box Set) [DVD] [1985]
£31.54
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews