Over the weekend, the wife and I finished watching Shoah (1985), the 9±hour Claude Lanzmann’s documentary on the Holocaust. We didn’t watch it all in one sitting of course, but rather over a two-week period.

We’d heard from others that it was “boring,” but Ebert’s essay on it when he placed it on his Great Movies list intrigued us. I have to say we found it fascinating.

For example, we learned that not all Jews were shipped packed in cattle cars a la Schindler’s List. While many Polish and other Eastern European Jews had heard rumors of extermination and were packed in, many times Jews from Western Europe – France, the Netherlands – had never heard the rumors and were sent on regular trains complete with assigned seat numbers, dining cars etc. They had no idea what was awaiting them. And here’s a detail I found fascinating: One railroad or train-station worker related seeing one Jew on one sucj trains actually get off the train to go buy something in the station! And when the train started to pull out without him, he actually ran after it to catch it! :eek:

Has anyone else seen this? I’ve read that Lanzmann worked five years on it in the early 1980s, that he wanted to film many of these people – Jewish survivors, former Nazi officials and regular citizens alike – before they were all gone. I don’t see how anyone who watches this could even for a moment entertain the notion that the Holocaust never occurred.

Well, maybe no one’s seen it. If not, I highly recommend it.

I’ve seen it, and recommend it. I’ve also read Ebert’s essay about it, which is well worth reading as well. I just don’t have anything else to say.

It has been on my list for many years. Perhaps soon. Not much of a date movie, though.

I watched it on PBS in the late 1980s. I remember it was stunning and heartbreaking, but I was glad to have seen it all.

I’ve only seen parts of it. I remember seeing the episode of Siskel & Ebert where they talked about and highly recommended it. I think the main reason some find it “boring” is I believe it relies solely on modern survivor interviews & footage. In other words there isn’t a single frame of historical footage in the entire nine hours!

I think it was released on TV in Europe in two parts. Best not to try to sit through it all at once, that’s for sure.

Another incident I liked is they tracked down one of the guards who had been assigned to build the gas chamber at one of the camps. Treblinka I think, but definitely in Poland. He was a bartender in a Munich beer hall now at the time of filming. I guess they did not have small cameras back in those days, and the sight of a camera trained on him – not doing anything, just trained on him at work – made him noticeably uncomfortable. Lanzmann starts trying to strike up a seemingly innocent conversation designed to get his foot in the door so to speak, asking how much beer the man serves per day. He won’t even answer that. Finally, in a pathetic move, the man reaches into his locker behind him to retrieve and put on an oversized pair of glasses, I guess to hide his face. “Whay are you trying to hide your face?” he’s asked but won’t even answer that. Not a word.

I think I’ve seen about half of it. I did like it. I don’t remember why I didn’t finish it.

I consider it one of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen. As I remember, there was little, if any, editorializing, and it was left soley to the viwer to form any opinions. For instance, the film maker interviewed someone who watched the trains on their way to the death camps, and he stated that he gave a throat-slashing gesture to them as they went by, “To, you know, warn them where they were going.” Bullshit, you did it with glee, to celebrate the Jews finally getting what was coming to them.

After the movie was over, I remember sitting a few minutes feeling shell shocked, probably because I watched it in one sitting.

Supposedly the average guy didn’t know what was happening.

A lot of the farmers who lived just outside the camps claimed they knew. Literally outside, with their properties running up to the camp perimieters. They were speaking in the film 40 years after the fact, still working the same land, old now. I can believe people in the immediate vicinity would have heard stories.

My mother says they knew. The came to fences to gawk and at times taunt. They ave every indication they knew. I don’t doubt her.

PBS ran an episode of their great series Secrets of the Dead about two Jews who escaped from Auschwitz by hiding in a wood pile during work detail just outside the gates. They hid there for three days until the Nazis gave up looking for them, then eventually made their way to safety. But when they met with Jewish leaders and told them what was happening, even ***they ***refused to believe them, it was that outrageous.

When Gen. Eisenhower first toured a major camp he gave orders for as many german (and allied) civilians and especially journalists to be sent there to see it firsthand because as he put it, “I know what will happen, in a generation or two people will try to deny the whole thing”.

This is pretty much where I am. I saw it for the first time in the theater last year. I thought it was going to be tough going sitting through a 9 1/2 hr film but the time just flew by, it was so fascinating and moving. They did have regular intermissions at the theater.

I liked the format of interviews rather than flashbacks with stock footage we’ve seen so often before, and cheesy re-creations. One we’ve seen and the other would be distracting since it’s not an actual movie. Just hearing these stories and using our own imagination was extremely powerful and the perfect way to tell the stories of so many people. I have to admit I thought it would be boring (the format, not the stories) and I was very very wrong.

I watched it via Netflix about 10 years ago and can still recall specific scenes that I found profoundly moving. An example: the scene where Claude Lanzmann’s interviewing thePolish population of a town with a survivor. As the crowd begins justifying their complete indifference during the war, the survivor’s body language becomes more and more defensive.

The farmers that planted on the edge of death camps complainedd about the ash that covered their fields from the chimneys. They knew.
In the cities: the enforced wearing of the star, the restrictions banning Jews from parks and schools,the public beatings and burnings, watching your neighbors rounded up and herded to trains stations. How could you not know something very evil was happening by 1942?
I suppose you could claim ignorance if you lived in isolation.