Claude Lanzmann

Lanzmann Loses His Distance

‘Shoah’ director’s latest, ‘Last of the Unjust,’ is an ethical lapse, says a longtime champion of his work.

02/18/2014
Special To The Jewish Week
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To understand how difficult it is to write this column, you have to consider my history with Claude Lanzmann. Of course, I have seen every one of his films. I have watched “Shoah” — nearly 10 hours long — five times. I have interviewed Lanzmann face to face on four separate occasions. That may not sound like a lot but it’s the longest episodic “relationship” I’ve had with a foreign filmmaker. And I have written about his work enthusiastically more times than I can count, at least a dozen times in 20 years for Jewish Week and that many again elsewhere.

Lanzmann at train station outside of Terezin. Courtesy of Synecdoche/Le Pacte

The Last ‘Elder’ Of Terezin

Claude Lanzmann’s portrait of Rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein is more advocacy than his previous Shoah works.

09/24/2013
Special To The Jewish Week
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A few years ago, it was noted in this space that the heroic age of  modernism in film, with its accompanying epic running times, had ended with the 1980s. However, it would appear that two of the world’s greatest documentary filmmakers, Claude Lanzmann and Frederick Wiseman, didn’t get the memo. Their new films, part of this year’s New York Film Festival, which kicks off on Sept. 27, are 218 and 244 minutes long, respectively. While neither Lanzmann’s “The Last of the Unjust” nor Wiseman’s “At Berkeley” are among the directors’ best work, each film has considerable merit, raises deeply troubling issues and rewards the patient and attentive viewer. (See Jewish Week website, thejewishweek.com, for review of Wiseman’s “At Berkeley.”)

Lanzmann, left, and Murmelstein in scene from “The Last of the Unjust.”

Claude Lanzmann, Action Man

The maker of ‘Shoah’ looks at his own life, and all he did with his time.

03/27/2012
Special to the Jewish Week

To most Jewish Week readers, Claude Lanzmann is the man who directed “Shoah,” the nine-and-three-quarter-hour documentary about the murder of six million European Jews by the Nazis. Of course, if that were all he had done, Lanzmann would be worthy of admiration and study. As Franco-Jewish journalist Jean Daniel told him after one of the first screenings of the film, “This justifies a life.”

In a non-linear autobiography, Claude Lanzmann discusses a life of action and travel, celebrities and Holocaust survivors.

Claude Lanzmann, Briefly

Rare screening of three of the ‘Shoah’ director’s more recent short films at Film Comment Select series.

02/22/2011
Special To The Jewish Week

In the death camp at Treblinka there was a fake railroad station that included a clock on which the painted hands always read 6 o’clock. The entire construction was a grotesque joke perpetrated by the camp’s commandant Fritz Stangl; in Treblinka, time stood still because all those brought there were dead from the moment they entered.

A scene from Lanzmann's "Sobibor."

"Shoah" and The New Yorker's Mea Culpa

When Claude Lanzmann's nine-and-a-half hour epic "Shoah" debuted in 1985, much of Europe was aghast, infuriated, ashamed -- and profoundly moved. No film to date had captured the devolution of humanity that the Holocaust required -- and, years later, the sublimated memory and even outright denial that bystanders, Nazis and even victims still maintained.  

Timothy Snyder on "Shoah": Lanzmann's Triumph, and Tragedy

Last summer the Yale historian Timothy Snyder drew much attention with his provocative essay detailing the ways Auschwitz is a poor symbol of the Holocaust: Jews died mainly by bullets, not by the gas chambers typified in Auschwitz. And while most Jews sent to Auschwitz were from Western Europe, the majority of those murdered came from the East.

Timothy Snyder on "Shoah": Lanzmann's Triumph, and Tragedy

Last summer the Yale historian Timothy Snyder drew much attention with his provocative essay detailing the ways Auschwitz is a poor symbol of the Holocaust: Jews died mainly by bullets, not by the gas chambers typified in Auschwtiz. And most Jews sent to Auschwitz were from Western Europe, yet most those murdered came from the East.

Timothy Synder on "Shoah": Lanzmann's Triumph, and Tragedy

Last summer the Yale historian Timothy Snyder drew much attention with his provocative essay detailing the ways Auschwitz is a poor symbol of the Holocaust: Jews died mainly by bullets, not by the gas chambers typified in Auschwtiz. And most Jews sent to Auschwitz were from Western Europe, yet most those murdered came from the East.

Fashionable Skepticism: Claude Lanzmann Attacks Spielberg

With all do respect to Claude Lanzmann, the director of the revered Holocaust documentary "Shoah," which gets re-released this Friday, I don't like his attitude these days.  In an interview with The New York Times published today, Lanzmann criticized mainstream Holocaust movies like "Schindler's List" and "Life is Beautiful."  And on Spielberg's decidely un-populist project t

‘Shoah’ At 25: ‘Nothing Will Be Forgotten’

Claude Lanzmann says his monumental film will stand ‘as an absolute barrier against forgetting.’

11/30/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Claude Lanzmann is in a bad mood. The director of “Shoah” is here to publicize the 25th anniversary re-release of that classic documentary and, whether he is jet-lagged or bored or subject to the cantankerousness that frequently befalls a man less than a week shy of his 85th birthday, he is in a bad mood and making no effort to conceal it.

The classic documentary “Shoah,” “does not age,” according to its director Claude Lanzmann, top.
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