Combustible Celluloid
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With: Yehuda Lerner
Written by: Claude Lanzmann
Directed by: Claude Lanzmann
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: French, Hebrew, with English subtitles
Running Time: 95
Date: 10/11/2001

Sobibor, October 14, 1943, 4 PM (2001)

4 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Claude Lanzmann deserves a place in history for his 9-1/2 hour documentary Shoah (1985), which told the stories of the survivors of the Holocaust. In 1979, Lanzmann shot footage of a man named Yehuda Lerner, telling his story of the Sobibor uprising. But rather than include it within the lengthy Shoah, Lanzmann decided that the story deserved a documentary of its own. Hence, he combines the interview with newer footage of Sobibor and the surrounding areas, telling the hair-raising story of how Lerner and his colleagues escaped. The title depicts the exact moment of the uprising, which would not have happened if not for the "precise punctuality of the Germans," according to Lerner. Though it lacks Shoah's epic importance, this is every bit as essential.

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