Shoah, a nine-hour, ten-minute documentary detailing the horrors of the Holocaust from interviews with survivors and perpetrators is not easy to watch, but it is important to watch it, to understand that it was the ugly racism of ordinary folk, and the connivance of German industry for a profit, that made the unprecedented murder on an industrial scale possible.
Director Claude Lanzmann spent twelve years tracking down more than fifty eye-witnesses, and producing 350 hours of interviews that he took five years to distil down to the final film. As the terrible truths unfold it is the facial expressions and tones, and sometimes the breakdowns, that convey as much as the words, giving a unique film document of the brutal and systematic extermination of millions of men, women and their children, who died choking in the dark on exhaust-fumes in the gas-vans, or on cyanide gas in the chambers at the death-camps.
Shoah (1985) is being released by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema series, and as a Blu-ray box-set later this month, along with 4 Films After Shoah by Lanzmann – A Visitor From The Living, Sobibor October 14 1943, The Karski Report and Last Of The Unjust, which are also being released as a DVD set. The release is timed to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Watch, and weep.