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Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah (2015)

1:26 | Trailer
Claude Lanzmann discusses the long and difficult process of researching, shooting, editing and presenting his groundbreaking and influential documentary Shoah (1985).


Adam Benzine


Adam Benzine
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Claude Lanzmann ... Self
Marcel Ophüls ... Self
Stuart Liebmann Stuart Liebmann ... Self - Author
Richard Brody Richard Brody ... Self - Film critic
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Abraham Bomba Abraham Bomba ... Self (archive footage)
Simone de Beauvoir ... Self (archive footage)
Ruth Elias Ruth Elias ... Self (archive footage)
Richard Glazar ... Self (archive footage) (as Richard Glazer)
Jan Karski ... Self (archive footage)
Hermann Landau Hermann Landau ... Self (archive footage)
Filip Müller ... Self (archive footage)
Tadeusz Pankiewicz Tadeusz Pankiewicz ... Self (archive footage)
Michael Podchlebnik ... Self (archive footage)
France Roche France Roche ... Self (archive footage)
Jean-Paul Sartre ... Self (archive footage)


"Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah" begins by putting the eponymous journalist/filmmaker's monumental nine-and-a-half-hour documentary on the Holocaust, Shoah (1985), in a quick context with thoughts from the likes of film critic Richard Brody and director Marcel Ophuls. It then dives headlong into a study of its making, with Lanzmann recounting the great emotional toll the seven years of production and five years of editing had on him. It is at once a fascinating portrait of a man openly pessimistic about the world, and a unique distillation of a creative process that yielded one of the most powerful cinematic documents of our time. Written by Variety

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Documentary | Short



Did You Know?


The archive footage shown is mostly from the outtakes of Shoah (1985). They are part of the 'Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection' in the 'Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive' of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. They are in the public domain now. See more »


Claude Lanzmann, Himself: [Last lines] We lived in a very difficult time. A very difficult century. But at least it was an epic time. And there was a greatness in this.
See more »


Featured in The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2016: Documentary (2016) See more »

User Reviews

"Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of Shoah" falls somewhere between "Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" and a DVD Extra.
15 February 2016 | by dave-mcclainSee all my reviews

If you like true stories told very well, but briefly, and you'd like to get a leg up in an Oscar pool, then this review is for you! In my continuing effort to see as many Oscar nominees as possible, I took advantage of the opportunity to see the shorts.TV theatrical presentation "Oscar Nominated Short Films 2016: Documentary" (NR, 3:00 – with 10 min. intermission). Here's a brief, spoiler-free summary and evaluation of one of those five films...

"Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of Shoah" (40 min.) – This film tells the story of French filmmaker and author Claude Lanzmann, focusing mainly on his challenges in taking twelve years to film and edit his nine-and-a-half-hour-long 1985 Holocaust oral history film "Shoah". After some short interviews testifying to Lanzmann's brilliance and the accomplishment that is "Shoah", Lanzmann himself tells his own story and we see footage from Shoah plus some footage Lanzmann short, but didn't use in the film. This doc calls to mind the engrossing 1991 feature doc "Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" about Francis Ford Coppola's struggles making 1979's "Apocalypse Now". "Spectres of Shoah" generates audience interest in some of the stories it has to tell, but mostly plays out like a glorified DVD extra. "C"

The other four films in the shorts.TV theatrical presentation "Oscar Nominated Short Films 2016: Documentary" are… "Body Team 12" "Chau, beyond the Lines" "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness" "Last Day of Freedom"

We have posted our articles about each of those other films on their respective pages on this website.

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Official Sites:

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USA | Germany | UK


English | French

Release Date:

April 2015 (Canada) See more »

Also Known As:

Lanzmann See more »

Filming Locations:

Paris, France See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (extended director's cut)


Color | Black and White (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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