Shoah (1985)

On the occasion of the film's 25th anniversary, Claude Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half hour landmark documentary, SHOAH, considered one of the greatest films ever made, will be re-released in the US through IFC Films.

The film will open in New York City on Friday, December 10 at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas (Part I, first week of release; Part II second week), and on Friday, December 24 at IFC Center (schedule info. TBA). A national rollout will follow in 2011.
 
Twelve years in the making, SHOAH is Lanzmann's monumental epic on the Holocaust and features interviews with survivors, bystanders and perpetrators in 14 countries. The film does not contain any historical footage but rather features interviews which seek to "reincarnate" the Jewish tragedy and also visits places where the crimes took place. It grew out of Lanzmann’s concern that the genocide perpetrated only 40 years earlier was already retreating into the mists of time, that atrocity was becoming sanitized as History. His massive achievement—at once epic and intimate, immediate and definitive—is a triumph of form and content that reveals hidden truths while rewriting the rules of documentary filmmaking. SHOAH remains nothing less than essential.
 
First released in New York City on October 20, 1985, SHOAH was immediately hailed as a masterpiece by critics. It was awarded prizes by the National Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Boston Society of Film Critics, BAFTA (Best Documentary), Césars (Honorary), and IDA Awards.
 
The reviews were ecstatic. The great documentarian Marcel Ophüls ("The Sorrow and the Pity") said: "I consider SHOAH to be the greatest documentary about contemporary history ever made, bar none, and by far the greatest film I have ever seen about the Holocaust."
Legendary French intellectual Simone de Beauvoir commented: "I would never have imagined such a combination of beauty and horror, it's a sheer masterpiece." 
 
On the making of SHOAH, Lanzmann stated at the time of the initial release, "Making a history was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to construct something more powerful than that. And, in fact, I think that the film, using only images of the present, evokes the past with far more force than any historical document."
 
Lanzmann elaborates: "Museums come to terms with death and institute forgetting as well as memory. On the contrary, SHOAH, because it is an incarnation, because nothing will ever replace Abraham Bomba’s tears, Filip Müller’s reverberating voice, or the minute-by-minute description of the executions in Treblinka by the Unterscharführer Franz Suchomel or Polish train conductor Henrik Gavkowski, SHOAH is an absolute barricade, the true wall against oblivion. Memory is reactivated every time SHOAH is presented in the world, in Europe, in Asia, in America.
 
IFC Films’ decision to re-release SHOAH theatrically with two new 35mm prints after 25 years is, for me, like a new birth for the film. For years, SHOAH has been incomprehensibly absent from New York’s cinemas. It is high time to show it again, and I thank the young distributors at IFC Films for having understood this."
 
Credits
 
An IFC Films release.
Running Time: 564 min.
MPAA: Unrated.
In English, German, Hebrew, Polish, Yiddish, and French with English subtitles.