Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
The sheer bravery of Claude Lanzmann to make a nine hour documentary on the Holocaust is worthy of praise on its own, but it is also worth noting that this is a fascinating, deeply impressive masterwork as well as one of the most demanding films of all time. Lanzmann travels throughout Europe, examining the years during which Nazi Germany inflicted one of the greatest horrors in history on European Jews, and has survivors of the camps, former Nazis, villagers who remember the Second World War and others describe, in full detail, their recollections about the effect that the events they witnessed had on them personally and culturally. What’s amazing is that Lanzmann avoids using a single frame of stock footage or old photographs, allowing the stories to speak for themselves and having the barren landscapes of former sites of various concentration camps describe history with their present condition (and in some cases, such as the more rural areas in countries like Poland, it’s quite obvious that they hadn’t changed much in forty years). Viewers might need to watch it in installments, but regardless it is one of the most informative and daring films ever made.
Screenplay by Claude Lanzmann