Berlinale: Programme


Film file

Homage

Shoah (1. Teil)

Shoah (1st Part)

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"It’s hard to recognize, but it was here." The opening scenes of Shoah were shot in a peaceful forest landscape in Poland. But it was at that spot near Chełmno, that the Germans murdered 400,000 European Jews during World War II. Simon Srebnik, who was 47 when he returned here, is one of only two survivors. He is the first we meet in this composite of voices speaking about the atrocities – "you can’t really recount how it was". But Shoah finds a way to make the crimes recognizable, and a "great chorus of voices" to recount how it was. To do so, Claude Lanzmann interviewed witnesses between 1976 and 1981. By taking his protagonists back to the scenes of the crimes and recreating scenes from their wartime lives, he made them actors in and of their own history. Claude Lanzmann said in 1986, "no archive footage was used; the entire 350 hours of film was shot in the present day. ( …) Shoah is a non-fiction film; its protagonists (Jews, Nazis, direct or distant witnesses to the extermination) were directly involved in various ways in the events I aimed to bring back to life". The recounting ends with the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising led by the Jewish Combat Organization (ŻOB).

France 1985, 266 min

by

Claude Lanzmann

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