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Shoah: BD Review

Jul 12th, 2013

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Criterion outdoes itself with this exceptional high-def edition of what is probably the most important documentary film ever made....

Criterion / 550 Minutes / 1985 / Unrated / Street Date: June 25, 2013

Shoah , in addition to being arguably the most singularly imperative historical documentary ever made, is also one of the genre’s most structurally provocative. Revisiting the chilling, enthralling nine-hour film again on this extraordinary Criterion Blu-ray edition brings Claude Lanzmann’s bold, singular vision into focus in a profound new way.

It’s a bit off-putting at first, I suppose. This is not a Ken Burns presentation of history, with newsreel footage and audio snippets helping to create a patchwork fabric of a particular time and place in world history. No, Lanzmann is more interested in how these horrific events are remembered, how their realities will be passed on to future generations, how (or if) humanity can come to terms with the black death that haunts our collective past.

This three-disc high-def edition of the movie has an importance and cultural import that can’t be underemphasized. Lanzmann’s epic work has been available in various formats in the past, but here we get not only lovely representations of the movie – I must admit that I never thought it would look and sound this good – and Criterion throws a ton of fascinating bonus material to round things out. As a piece of art and an indelible historical document, Shoah on Blu-ray is a heartbreaking miracle.    

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