Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Simon Srebnik, Michael Podchlebnik, Motke Zaidl, Hanna Zaidl, Jan Piwonski, Itzhak Dugin, Richard Glazer, Paula Biren, Pana Pietyra, Pan Filipowicz, Pan Falborski, Abraham Bomba, Czeslaw Borowi, Henrik Gawkowski, Rudolf Vrba
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Claude Lanzmann
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: English, French, Polish, German, Hebrew, Yiddish and Italian with English subtiles
Running Time: 563
Date: 04/01/1985
IMDB

Shoah (1985)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Being Human

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The late Gene Siskel once called this magnificent, overwhelming documentary "the greatest use of film, ever." Director Claude Lanzmann spent years collecting these stunning, matter-of-fact interviews with anyone connected with the Holocaust, from survivors to eyewitnesses to SS tormentors.

Lanzmann doesn't try to understand what happened; he just collects details. It's impossible to know just how horrible conditions really were, but listening to these stories of sights, sounds and smells can break your heart. Amazingly, the stories eventually begin to corroborate each other, and you begin to understand how, horrifically, these events came to actually happen.

The film runs 9-1/2 hours without a scrap of stock footage, and as off-putting as it may seem to sit down to watch it, the intensity and honesty of the pure storytelling soon draws you in. New Yorker's now out-of-print DVD collects the complete film, with English subtitles on four discs. It includes a director biography. In 2010, the film was re-released for its 25th anniversary.