Shoah - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shoah Reviews

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July 23, 2013
So everybody say "Shicndler's List" is the greatest film ever made based on deafning nightmares of The Holocaust. But for me nothing will come close to this 9 and 1/2 exhaustive piece of genocide and brutality. Shoah hits you like a shot in the heart.
June 27, 2013
I'd give it 7 stars out of 5 if I could, the only word to accurately describe this film is 'Monumental'.
June 5, 2013
Every person on Earth should see this.
May 21, 2013
A masterpiece that some people like me watch over and over again. Way above any work of fiction.
March 9, 2013
I honestly want to see this with all my heart but NINE AND A HALF HOURS is a very, very long time.
September 5, 2012
Some of the most important footage ever shot -- interviews with participants and victims and bystanders of the Holocaust.
May 16, 2012
It takes real patience to sit through this epic, but if you do, you will be rewarded with one of the most powerful, and essential, viewing experiences in TV or film; the most essential and devastating of all Holocaust films. Shoah probably comes as close as any show or movie can in "changing" the viewer after it is over. Watch it straight through or watch it in sections. Either way, it should be watched.
October 16, 2011
Well, after years of trying to track down a copy of it, I can finally say I've watched this movie - all 9 and a half hours of it. This is the longest movie I've ever seen, and so unlike anything else that reviewing it is basically impossible. I can really just describe it.

This movie is a documentary about the Holocaust. It doesn't use any archival footage from the actual event. Rather, Claude Lanzmann, the film's director, spent years (mostly in the 1970s, I think) tracking down people who were somehow involved in the Holocaust and interviewing them about what happened. Mostly he interviews Jewish survivors of the camps, but he also spends quite a lot of time talking to bystanders (mostly Poles) and former Nazis, both soldiers and bureaucrats. He also talks a good bit to a historian who is an expert on the Holocaust. The movie consists almost entirely of either unbroken shots of these people talking, or long tracking shots around the sites of concentration camps or similar places while we hear people talk about what happened there. Lanzmann just keeps asking people the most detailed and matter-of-fact questions about precisely how things happened.

Watching this movie is quite an undertaking - at 9 and a half hours, it takes longer to get through than some novels take to read. What do you get out of it? Well, you'll probably learn specific things about the Holocaust that you didn't know. I had taken a class on the subject (admittedly, an English class, not a history class), and it still had details I hadn't heard before. More, though, you just see how the survivors and the former perpetrators live on, and how it variously continues to affect them. The movie is too much to fully process, even if you watch it over the course of three weeks like I did. It's probably the single most valuable document of the Holocaust and its aftereffects. And that's all I have to say about that.
September 29, 2011
with such a ginormous length .... if available with Subs ... i will watch it
September 29, 2011
9 1/2 Hours long, but heck, it looks amazing.
September 16, 2011
I first heard about this documentary film from an 80s TV special with siskel & Ebert on You Tube. I don't know if I'll be able to sit for nine hours straight, but this piece does look extraordinary, in-depth, and important.
August 19, 2011
not perfect as it'd impossible to do , but very important
½ June 8, 2011
Documentaire revenant sur l'exportation des Juifs, leur mise Ă  mort et qui se divise en deux Ă (C)poques. La premiĂšre est celle de l'expulsion de leurs demeures et de la mort Ă  travers les fosses ou les camions. La seconde est celle de l'industrialisation avec les chambres Ă  gaz et l'insurrection du ghetto de Varsovie. Le tout est montrĂ (C) sans aucune images d'archive et avec le commentaire de tĂ (C)moins uniquement.
Il est inutile de dire (mais je le fais quand mĂȘme) que les tĂ (C)moignages sont rĂ (C)ellement impressionnants et que certains sont choquants voire mĂȘme Ă (C)mouvants. Difficile de ne pas ressentir un pincement au coeur dans certains cas. Surtout avec les tĂ (C)moignages de Filip MĂ 1/4ller (comme son nom ne l'indique pas, il Ă (C)tait un juif tchĂšque, l'explication rĂ (C)side dans le fait que les siĂšcles prĂ (C)cĂ (C)dents, beaucoup d'Allemands travaillaient en TchĂ (C)quie) ou encore de Jan Karski, rĂ (C)sistant polonais.
J'avoue par contre avoir un Ă (C)norme problĂšme quant aux mĂ (C)thodes de Lanzmann. Il existe chez lui un tel sentiment de revanche et de haine vis-Ă -vis de l'Allemand que ça se ressent trĂšs fort lorsqu'il interviewe d'anciens dignitaires nazis ou de gardes SS de camps. Tout est fait pour montrer que ce sont des monstres et des menteurs. Lanzmann semble par exemple trĂšs surpris de savoir que celui qui Ă (C)tait le grand chef des opĂ (C)rations de trains disait ne pas savoir que Treblinka, Auschwitz, etc. Ă (C)taient des camps d'extermination. Il semble aussi surpris de savoir qu'un garde SS aurait pu ressentir des sentiments. Dans les deux cas, ça ne me semblerait pas Ă (C)tonnant. Les Nazis avaient plutĂŽt intĂ (C)rĂȘt Ă  cacher la folie d'un tel massacre mĂȘme Ă  des compatriotes et oui, un SS pour moi pouvait ressentir de l'Ă (C)motion face Ă  de tels actes de violence. Lanzmann utilise souvent la ruse pour obtenir des informations. Il promet mĂȘme Ă  un Allemand que son nom ne sera jamais diffusĂ (C) lors de l'entretien, et Ă  l'Ă (C)cran, au mĂȘme moment, le nom du SS s'inscrit. Je trouve ce procĂ (C)dĂ (C) assez malhonnĂȘte et on comprend que Lanzmann ne considĂšre plus les Allemands comme des hommes. En m'Ă (C)tant renseignĂ (C), il semble aussi qu'il soit assez extrĂ (C)miste dans ses positions et dans son soutien Ă  IsraĂ«l.
On le voit mĂȘme obligĂ (C) des Juifs Ă  continuer leur tĂ (C)moignage, car c'est absolument nĂ (C)cessaire et que ceux-ci demandent d'arrĂȘter, qu'il s'excuse, mais c'est absolument nĂ (C)cessaire. J'ai franchement du mal avec ce personnage de Lanzmann dont l'aura est toujours prĂ (C)sente dans l'oeuvre. Je trouve aussi que 9h30 avec juste des commentaires et images du prĂ (C)sent, c'est trop long. Je trouve ça remarquable comme distanciation car on ne voit rien de l'horreur, on la comprend juste avec des paroles et des images des lieux aujourd'hui, mais tout de mĂȘme, c'est trop long.
Au final, je suis là (C)gÚrement dà (C)çu et l'oeuvre ne vaut que pour la mine d'informations et de tà (C)moignages remarquables de l'horreur và (C)cue par les Juifs. Les informations des Allemands sont trÚs intà (C)ressantes aussi.
May 17, 2011
This is an incredible historical document. Nearly ten hours of interviews with both the victims and the accomplices of the most famous democide in history. It is extremely long, very hard to watch at times, heart breaking at times, and also infuriating. But it does more than perhaps any other work (and certainly any other film) to explain - as much as this is possible - how the holocaust happened. It destroys all denials (not that they needed destroying, as they are nonsense) but more importantly it helps explain that this is something that can happen at any time and any place, which is perhaps the most important part.
April 24, 2011
probably the most important film on this subject... hard to watch because of the subject matter and its length (9.5 hours!), but
March 24, 2011
A true look at the horrors of the Holocaust from the views of survivors, bystanders and the ones who carried the heinous acts out.

Will say due to its length you should invest alot of time into watching it or break it into smaller segments, come might call that a bad way to watch it but whatever it takes to let people watch it.
March 18, 2011
This film is an extraordinary documentary on the horrors of the Holocaust. Here is the astonishing feat, it creates a sense of terror and sadness with using no archival footage, period. It relies just on the words of survivors, ex-Nazi soldiers and witnesses, and their words strike terror into our heart and sorrow in our soul. This film single-handedly did the impossible and almost made me cry (so far only 2 films have ever done it, and this film got the closest). This film is absolutely astonishing and is a fantastic feat in films. If the film does have one flaw it's that the film is too powerful. This film is so powerful that it's nearly impossible to absorb the film all at once. You have to take it piece by piece to be abundantly absorbed by the film. There is not a film that comes to my mind that is more important than this. You have to have the patience because this is a 9 and a half hour long film, but if you're willing to go with it, you're going to find yourself immersed by this unbelievably astounding piece of cinema.
March 2, 2011
A 9 hour documentary about the holocaust, more specifically for the majority of its running time, about the extermination camps and the details of their running. It's pretty needless to say that this is fascinating, moving stuff - as a film it has a certain unique style that it maintains throughout, giving the viewer time to take it all in and the filmmaker space to iron out every tiny little detail he feels necessary. I'd give it six stars but probably knock one off cause there were some issues.

Visuals: we obviously have a conscious decision to only show footage contemporaneous to when the film was made - in the 70s. This is all well and good but Lanzmann appeared to run out of stuff to show us while we listen to the interviews - I feel like I've seen every inch of what remains of Treblinka and Auschwitz, many times over. And the sightseeing sequence of New York and Washington 7 hours in... I think I could have beared to see the faces of the interviewees rather than yet another shot of a grassed-over mass grave.

That's the main problem I can think of for now. I'm sure there was something else nagging at me, but I forget. But whatever it was was minor, like the visuals thing. The subtitles were pretty dodgy on my copy (in terms of spelling/grammar, the meaning was there) but I believe a more recent release has sorted that out.

ps if you fancy a 9hr drinking session accompanied by a holocaust documentary, a good drinking game would be to have a shot each time you see the documentary maker or his interpretor having a cigarette. Bear in mind they're French and it's the 70s. You'll be on the floor after 90 mins.
February 7, 2011
"if you could lick my heart, it would poison you." end of the road for Holocaust movies.
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