Collection of documentary films by director Claude Lanzmann. ‘Shoah’ (1985) builds up a horrifying picture of the Nazi extermination camps featuring interviews with both survivors and former guards. ‘A Visitor from the Living’ (1997) features an interview with a World War II Red Cross official who wrote a report on the Jewish concentration camps. ‘Sobibór, October 14, 1943, 4PM’ (2001) documents the Sobibór Revolt of 1943, one of only two successful Nazi uprisings. ‘The Karski Report’ (2010) focuses on the life of Polish resistant Jan Karski who, during the Second World War alerted the allies to the mass genocide that was being committed in German concentration camps. In ‘The Last of the Unjust’ (2013), Lanzmann explores the involvement of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last president of the Theresienstadt Jewish Council.
Please note this is a region B Blu-ray and will require a region B or region free Blu-ray player in order to play. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK Claude Lanzmann’s landmark documentary about the Holocaust, Shoah, alongside the four films he made through 2013 on the subject. Lanzmann spent twelve years spanning the globe for surviving camp inmates, SS commandants, and eyewitnesses of the “Final Solution”. Without dramatic re-enactment or archival footage but with extraordinary testimonies Shoah renders the step-by-step machinery of extermination, and through haunted landscapes and human voices, makes the past come brilliantly alive. Shoah , at 550 minutes, is a work of genius alone, an heroic endeavour to humanise the inhuman, to tell the untellable, and to explore in unprecedented detail the horrors of the past. It is one of the most powerful and important, and greatest, films of all time. A Visitor from the Living  is based on an interview conducted by Lanzmann with Maurice Rossel during the filming of Shoah. A member of the Berlin delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross from 1942, Rossel was the only member of the organisation to have visited Auschwitz in 1943, and to have also paid a trip to the “model ghetto” of Theresienstadt in June 1944. Sobibór, October 14, 1943, 4PM  recounts the prisoner uprising that took place in the Sobibór death camp in Poland. Only 50 prisoners ultimately evaded capture, while the rest were sent to their murders in the gas chamber. The Karski Report  is Lanzmann’s brief film on Jan Karski, the Polish resistance figure who also featured in the final section of Shoah, and which recounts Karski’s powerful testimonial given to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter on what he witnessed during a trip to the Warsaw Ghetto and to the extermination camp Belzec. The Last of the Unjust , at 218 minutes in length, moves between 1975 and 2012, detailing Lanzmann’s mid-’70s Rome interviews with Benjamin Murmelstein, the last President of the Jewish Council in the Theresienstadt ghetto, and the filmmaker’s own return to the location 37 years later providing an unprecedented insight into the genesis of the “Final Solution”. SPECIAL DIRECTOR APPROVED FOUR-DISC BLU-RAY BOXSET OF FIVE FILMS: Optional English subtitles on all films 300-PAGE BOOK containing writing on all of the films, by Stuart Liebman, Aleksander Jousselin, Laurence Giavarini, and Emmanuel Burdeau; the transcript of a 1990 seminar with Claude Lanzmann; a chapters guide for Shoah; a gallery of the persons interviewed for Shoah; and a biography of Claude Lanzmann
To write a review of a film such as Shoah seems an impossible task: how to sum up one of the most powerful discourses on film in such a way as to make people realise that this is a documentary of immense consequence, a documentary that is not easy to watch but important to watch, a documentary that not only records the facts but bears witness. We are commanded “Never forget”; this film helps us to fulfil that mandate, reverberating with the viewer long after the movie has ended. Yes, Holocaust films are plentiful, both fictional and non-, with titles such as The Last Days, Schindler’s List and Life Is Beautiful entering the mainstream. But this is not a film about the Holocaust per se; this is a film about people. It’s a meandering, nine-and-a-half-hour film that never shows graphic pictures or delves into the political aspects of what happened in Europe in the 1930s and 40s but talks with survivors, with SS men, with those who witnessed the extermination of 6 million Jews.Director Claude Lanzmann spent 11 years tracking people down, cajoling them into talking, asking them questions they didn’t want to face. When soldiers refuse to appear on film, Lanzmann sneaks cameras in. When people are on the verge of breaking down and can’t answer any more questions, Lanzmann asks anyway. He gives names to the victims–driving through a town that was predominantly Jewish before Hitler’s time, a local points out which Jews owned what. Lanzmann travels the world, speaking to workers in Poland, survivors in Israel, officers in Germany. He is not a detached interviewer; his probings are deeply personal. One man farmed the land upon which Treblinka was built. “Didn’t the screams bother you?” Lanzmann asks. When the farmer seems to brush the issues aside with a smile, Lanzmann’s fury is noticeable. “Didn’t all this bother you?” he demands angrily, only to be told, “When my neighbour cuts his thumb, I don’t feel hurt.” The responses, the details are difficult to hear but critical nonetheless. Shoahtells the story of the most horrifying event of the 20th century, not chronologically and not with historical detail, but in an even more important way: person by person. –Jenny Brown