In was able to showcase an intense and realistic

In presenting a paramount subject for an audience documentaries are a
remarkable way of getting information across. Documentaries have their fair
percentage of meaningful and allusive films, and there are most important in
the use of their subject. Shoah is
one example of such documentaries. The film Shoah,
directed by French born Claude Lanzmann, that has a run-time system of nine
hours plus, is a conclusive work of the Holocaust. With voluminous accounts
from survivors of the Holocaust, guards from the concentration camp, and others
who were associated with these ungodly and tragic events, we the audience are
presented with an expansive understanding of the whole calamity. The
Documentary is brilliantly constructed, with a genuinely fine distinction. By
deliberately not undertaking the use of primary sourced archives, Claude
Lanzmann was able to showcase an intense and realistic depiction of the events
of the Holocaust by single-handedly recording the areas where it had all taken
place on film. And, interviewing those strongly affected by such events.   

 

            The origin of the title
of the documentary, Shoah, originates
from modern Hebrew (???? to mean ‘catastrophe’), and it is Christened so, as
to demonstrate the mass murders that occurred under the Nazi regime from 1941
to 1945, or as we call it, the Holocaust. I have watched many documentaries
relating to the Holocaust, listened to eye-witness accounts past down from
family members and survivors such as Tomi Reichenthal, and have read extensive
amounts of literature on the subject, but for me Claude Lanzmann’s film is the
most encyclopaedic, detailed and meticulous work that will give modern
generations a better and more honest interpretation of the Holocaust and the
tragedy it entailed. Shoah is an
alluring and delicate documentary even though its subject is horrific, however,
it is also very effective and mind-altering. Before now, never has a film of
this magnitude been so paramount. It is because of the films subject, that Shoah is a documentary that every
historian and academic need to watch. Yes, you’ll be taken aback by the films
run-time and you’ll feel it’s way too long, but after you watch it, you feel as
though you’ve gained more knowledge than before about the events of the
Holocaust. Shoah, at times can be
difficult to view, but conclusively it is essential in helping us to assimilate
the horrors that savagely murdered millions of the Jewish community.

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            Claude Lanzmann’s use
of imagery is so effective in the film. Special worker Philip Mueller describes
one event which involved the SS and a gas chamber at Auschwitz:

Then a
sudden silence fell over those gathered in the crematorium courtyard. Aumeyer
addressed the crowd: “You’re here to work, for our soldiers are fighting at the
front”. Then Grabner spoke up: “We need masons, electricians, all the trades.
We need all of you! But first, undress. You must be disinfected. We want you
healthy”. I could see the people were calmer. Reassured by what they heard. And
they began to undress. Even if they still had their doubts, if you want to live,
you must hope. Their clothing remained in the courtyard, scattered everywhere.
Aumeyer was beaming very proud of how he handled things. He turned to some of
the SS men and told them “You see? That’s the way to do it!”1  

 

Lanzmann films the scene from different angles. First from the roof to
display the position of the SS men looking down on the Jews, and secondly from
the ground looking up at the roof and chimney of the gas chamber. As Mueller
speaks and as we see the angles of the building it is as if we see the events
that he is describing.

 

Claude Lanzmann is knowledgeable of the fact
that everyone has heard of or seen horrific pictures relating to the Holocaust.
So, he uses this notion to beautifully engineer the method of visual effects
with the attempt of transporting his audience back to the era of the Nazi
regime in Chelmo and Sobibor. It is through this method that the audience are
seeing and responding to the consternation imposed upon the world when the
events of the Holocaust came to the fore. It is my belief that Lanzmann make
character witnesses out of his audience by not instilling central characters in
the documentary. Before watching Shoah, I
read many books relating to the Holocaust with central characters and have seen
films of the same subject matter follow the same pattern. It was only upon
watching this documentary that I realised the central and supporting characters
is the visual effects of the setting and us the audience. This shows Lanzmann TRUE
genius as a director as he manages to engage the modern audience, who hadn’t even
been born at the time of the Holocaust, and mould us into authentic witnesses of
the genocide that occurred. He intently does this to show that we, who are now witnesses
to the tragedies of the Holocaust, have a responsibility to vouch for its ordeals
just like the witnesses interviewed in the documentary. Literary Critic, Shoshana
Felman elaborates on this point by once stating:

It is the
silence of the witness’s death which Lanzmann must historically here challenge,
…to revive the Holocaust and to rewrite the event-without-a-witness into
witnessing, and into history.  It is the silence of the witness’s
death, and of the witness’s deadness, which precisely must be broken, and
transgressed.2

1 Claude Lanzmann, Dir. Shoah
(DVD, 1985).

2 Shoshana Felman, Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in
Literature, Psychoanalysis and History ed. by S Felman and D. Laub, (New
York: Routledge, 1992), p. 219.In presenting a paramount subject for an audience documentaries are a
remarkable way of getting information across. Documentaries have their fair
percentage of meaningful and allusive films, and there are most important in
the use of their subject. Shoah is
one example of such documentaries. The film Shoah,
directed by French born Claude Lanzmann, that has a run-time system of nine
hours plus, is a conclusive work of the Holocaust. With voluminous accounts
from survivors of the Holocaust, guards from the concentration camp, and others
who were associated with these ungodly and tragic events, we the audience are
presented with an expansive understanding of the whole calamity. The
Documentary is brilliantly constructed, with a genuinely fine distinction. By
deliberately not undertaking the use of primary sourced archives, Claude
Lanzmann was able to showcase an intense and realistic depiction of the events
of the Holocaust by single-handedly recording the areas where it had all taken
place on film. And, interviewing those strongly affected by such events.   

 

            The origin of the title
of the documentary, Shoah, originates
from modern Hebrew (???? to mean ‘catastrophe’), and it is Christened so, as
to demonstrate the mass murders that occurred under the Nazi regime from 1941
to 1945, or as we call it, the Holocaust. I have watched many documentaries
relating to the Holocaust, listened to eye-witness accounts past down from
family members and survivors such as Tomi Reichenthal, and have read extensive
amounts of literature on the subject, but for me Claude Lanzmann’s film is the
most encyclopaedic, detailed and meticulous work that will give modern
generations a better and more honest interpretation of the Holocaust and the
tragedy it entailed. Shoah is an
alluring and delicate documentary even though its subject is horrific, however,
it is also very effective and mind-altering. Before now, never has a film of
this magnitude been so paramount. It is because of the films subject, that Shoah is a documentary that every
historian and academic need to watch. Yes, you’ll be taken aback by the films
run-time and you’ll feel it’s way too long, but after you watch it, you feel as
though you’ve gained more knowledge than before about the events of the
Holocaust. Shoah, at times can be
difficult to view, but conclusively it is essential in helping us to assimilate
the horrors that savagely murdered millions of the Jewish community.

 

            Claude Lanzmann’s use
of imagery is so effective in the film. Special worker Philip Mueller describes
one event which involved the SS and a gas chamber at Auschwitz:

Then a
sudden silence fell over those gathered in the crematorium courtyard. Aumeyer
addressed the crowd: “You’re here to work, for our soldiers are fighting at the
front”. Then Grabner spoke up: “We need masons, electricians, all the trades.
We need all of you! But first, undress. You must be disinfected. We want you
healthy”. I could see the people were calmer. Reassured by what they heard. And
they began to undress. Even if they still had their doubts, if you want to live,
you must hope. Their clothing remained in the courtyard, scattered everywhere.
Aumeyer was beaming very proud of how he handled things. He turned to some of
the SS men and told them “You see? That’s the way to do it!”1  

 

Lanzmann films the scene from different angles. First from the roof to
display the position of the SS men looking down on the Jews, and secondly from
the ground looking up at the roof and chimney of the gas chamber. As Mueller
speaks and as we see the angles of the building it is as if we see the events
that he is describing.

 

Claude Lanzmann is knowledgeable of the fact
that everyone has heard of or seen horrific pictures relating to the Holocaust.
So, he uses this notion to beautifully engineer the method of visual effects
with the attempt of transporting his audience back to the era of the Nazi
regime in Chelmo and Sobibor. It is through this method that the audience are
seeing and responding to the consternation imposed upon the world when the
events of the Holocaust came to the fore. It is my belief that Lanzmann make
character witnesses out of his audience by not instilling central characters in
the documentary. Before watching Shoah, I
read many books relating to the Holocaust with central characters and have seen
films of the same subject matter follow the same pattern. It was only upon
watching this documentary that I realised the central and supporting characters
is the visual effects of the setting and us the audience. This shows Lanzmann TRUE
genius as a director as he manages to engage the modern audience, who hadn’t even
been born at the time of the Holocaust, and mould us into authentic witnesses of
the genocide that occurred. He intently does this to show that we, who are now witnesses
to the tragedies of the Holocaust, have a responsibility to vouch for its ordeals
just like the witnesses interviewed in the documentary. Literary Critic, Shoshana
Felman elaborates on this point by once stating:

It is the
silence of the witness’s death which Lanzmann must historically here challenge,
…to revive the Holocaust and to rewrite the event-without-a-witness into
witnessing, and into history.  It is the silence of the witness’s
death, and of the witness’s deadness, which precisely must be broken, and
transgressed.2

1 Claude Lanzmann, Dir. Shoah
(DVD, 1985).

2 Shoshana Felman, Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in
Literature, Psychoanalysis and History ed. by S Felman and D. Laub, (New
York: Routledge, 1992), p. 219.

x

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