Shoah (1985)

Not Rated  |   |  Documentary, History, War  |  November 1985 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 5,240 users   Metascore: 99/100
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Claude Lanzmann's epic documentary recounts the story of the Holocaust through interviews with witnesses - perpetrators as well as survivors.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Simon Srebnik ...
Michael Podchlebnik ...
Motke Zaidl ...
Hanna Zaidl ...
Jan Piwonski ...
Itzhak Dugin ...
Richard Glazer ...
Paula Biren ...
Pana Pietyra ...
Pan Filipowicz ...
Pan Falborski ...
Abraham Bomba ...
Czeslaw Borowi ...
Henrik Gawkowski ...
Rudolf Vrba ...


Claude Lanzmann directed this 9 1/2 hour documentary of the Holocaust without using a single frame of archive footage. He interviews survivors, witnesses, and ex-Nazis (whom he had to film secretly since they only agreed to be interviewed by audio). His style of interviewing by asking for the most minute details is effective at adding up these details to give a horrifying portrait of the events of Nazi genocide. He also shows, or rather lets some of his subjects themselves show, that the anti-Semitism that caused 6 million Jews to die in the Holocaust is still alive and well in many people who still live in Germany, Poland, and elsewhere. Written by Gene Volovich <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






| | | |

Release Date:

November 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Шоа  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,874 (USA) (10 December 2010)


$15,642 (USA) (31 December 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


With a running length exceeding 9 hours, this is the longest film listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, the book series edited by Steven Jay Schneider. See more »


Claude Lanzmann: And this "death panic"?
Franz Suchomel: When this "death panic" sets in, one lets go. It's well known when someone's terrified, and knows he's about to die; it can happen in bed. My mother was kneeling by her bed...
Claude Lanzmann: Your mother?
Franz Suchomel: Yes. Then there was a big pile. That's a fact. It's been medically proved.
See more »


Referenced in Ancient Evil 2: Guardian of the Underworld (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Be prepared for a long haul
22 December 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's nine and a half hours of travelogue footage and interviews with terribly ordinary middle-aged and senior citizens about events that happened a half-century ago.

Except that the sites visited are the scenes of the systematic mass murder of roughly 11 million men, women and children, including some 6 million Jews, and the ordinary grandparents are the survivors and perpetrators of some of the most horrendous atrocities that mankind has committed upon each other.

It is a terribly draining movie, hypnotic and disorienting, both in it's length and in the blandness, the matter-of-fact descriptions of things that would make a normal person scream in horror. And that is what is so amazingly important and meaningful about this film; that these were ordinary, average people. These were, and are, normal folks like you and me, and anybody, regardless of background, moral upbringing, and standards of decency can be caught up in circumstances beyond their power or experience, and can do the most depraved or heroic things imaginable. It is shocking, insightful, and a very,very important film that forces us to confront our own humanity and decide what that, in fact means.

But it's nine and a half hours long. Be prepared to be drained and leave with your head buzzing.

38 of 39 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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