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Shoah (4 Disc Set & 184 Page Book Special Edition Box Set) [DVD] [1985]

4.7 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Directors: Claude Lanzmann
  • Format: Box set, PAL, Dolby
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment Ltd
  • DVD Release Date: 19 Feb. 2007
  • Run Time: 550 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KB8DB2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,235 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Shoah is Claude Lanzmann's landmark documentary meditation on the Holocaust. Assembled from footage shot by the filmmaker during the 1970s and 1980s, it investigates the genocide at the level of experience: the geographical layout of the camps and the ghettos; the daily routines of imprisonment; the inexorable trauma of humiliation, punishment, extermination; and the fascinating insights of those who experienced these events first hand. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present, for the first time on DVD in the UK, this 550-minute masterpiece in a four-disc set with a 180-page book.


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 --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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By Friarofdoom 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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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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By Mr. G. Morgan TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 April 2016
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There was a time when Channel 4 in the U.K used to show all manner of stuff and so it was by accident that I happened upon this quite extraordinary film. Then I had no idea of this Lanzmann bloke, ex flame of De Beauvoir and fierce antagonist of all who treat The Shoah without utter seriousness. Part of this involves his eschewing contemporaneous documentary film from the time. This accounts for his devoting much attention to anecdotes, such as the amazing one with Suchomel, one of Trebkinka's most odious guards, here not realizing when asked by Lanzmann - filming on a hidden camera - to sing a song he and his mates did about the Jews they were about to kill, that he is opening himself up to savage moral criticism; contariwise when interviewing a barber who breaks down when describing how some fellow Jews died, Lanzmann exhorts him to carry on, which might seem heartless but pays off as we share a moment of heart-wrenching realisation of quite how appalling the Shoah was. That is, I think Lanzmann's signal achievement: I, like many, knew much of what we always called The Holocaust. Through this film the matter becomes personal, beyond that famous 6-millions-murdered statistic and gives one stark, vicarious experience, an unflinching examination of the horror of it all. I had never seen anything like it and never expect to again. I watched it straight through on first viewing and I can always do so. "Man is a wolf to man" the old saying goes, and this film provides a sobering lesson that is profound because this one very bold project. Just imagine him PITCHING the idea for it! But with the estimable Holocaust expert Hilbert as just one of many eloquent and frequently noble interviewees at one extreme and Suchomel at the other, there is half a day's worth of a document of inestimable worth and power. Edifying and horrible, which is as it should be.
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