Shoah: Four Sisters

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Starting in 1999, Claude Lanzmann made several films that could be considered satellites of SHOAH, comprised of interviews conducted in the 1970s that didn't make it into the final, monumental work. In the last years of the late director's life, he decided to devote a film to four women from four different areas of Eastern Europe with four different destinies, each finding herself improbably alive after war's end: Ruth Elias from Ostravia, Czechoslovakia; Paula Biren from Lodz, Poland; Ada Lichtman from further south in Krakow; and Hannah Marton from Cluj, or Kolozsvár, in Transylvania. Survivors of unimaginable Nazi horrors during the Holocaust, they tell their individual stories and become crucial witnesses to the barbarism they experienced. Each possesses a vivid intelligence and a commitment to candor that make their accounts of what they suffered through both searing and unforgettable. Four Sisters now arrives on the screen to remind audiences of the immense courage it took for these witnesses to return to their past as they share their deeply moving personal tragedies. The frankness of their words, their intensely scrutinized faces, and their bravery as they revisit unimaginable experiences will make them lasting presences in the moral universe of younger generations. "What they have in common," wrote Lanzmann, "apart from the specific horrors each one of them was subjected to, is their intelligence, an incisive, sharp and carnal intelligence that rejects all pretense and false reasons-in a word-idealism." Lanzmann's films remarkably stay within the immediate present tense, where the absolute horror of the Shoah is always happening.

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Critic Reviews for Shoah: Four Sisters

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (5)

  • The accumulation of detail, the sense of the range of outrages seen and experienced, is conveyed by allowing these women to truly sink into their narratives.

    Nov 20, 2018 | Full Review…
  • The approximately 270-minute running time becomes a hushed demand for the viewer to sit with historical cruelty and listen as its victims teach to the future, its effect a cumulative cry of warning for today.

    Nov 14, 2018 | Full Review…

    Dave White

    TheWrap
    Top Critic
  • Even without a lot of cuts for time, each story is perfectly paced, and filled with little details that big-picture histories tend to miss.

    Nov 14, 2018 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • The installments... have a cumulative power. Their points of confluence - the deaths of family members, improbable escapes, the hardship of life in ghettos and camps - underscore the horror and, at times, the grim absurdity of surviving extermination.

    Nov 13, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Perhaps Four Sisters is best considered a parting gesture from Lanzmann, ensuring that, in his body of work at least, these four "sisters" should endure as more than just a footnote.

    Nov 13, 2018 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • A stunning four-part satellite to Claude Lanzmann's masterwork.

    Nov 14, 2018 | Full Review…

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