Claude Lanzmann death: Director of Holocaust documentary Shoah dies aged 92

Shoah is regarded as one of the most important documentaries ever made

Jack Shepherd
Thursday 05 July 2018 11:28
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The director Claude Lanzmann at the 63rd Berlinale Film Festival
The director Claude Lanzmann at the 63rd Berlinale Film Festival

Claude Lanzmann, the famous French filmmaker best known for the Holocaust documentary Shoah, has died aged 92.

The publishing house for Lanzmann’s autobiography, Gallimard, confirmed to Associated Press that Lanzmann died Thursday (5 July) morning at Paris hospital.

Shoah, released in 1985, has long been seen as one of the most imported documentaries ever made, often being labelled a ‘masterpiece’.

Eleven years in the making, the film – which spans nine hours – contains interviews with various Holocaust survivors, the filmmaker deciding to only use contemporary footage of Holocaust sites rather than historic or reconstructed footage.

Lanzmann documented survivors of the Holocaust on multiple other occasions, including the films A Visitor from the Living (1999), Sobibór, October 14, 1943, 4pm (2001), The Karski Report (2010), and The Last of the Unjust (2013) which used interviews originally intended for Shoah.

Lanzmann was also known for the memoir The Patagonian Hare, in which he detailed his experiences in the French Resistance as a young man, his friendship with Jean-Paul Sartre and his love affair (and mountain-climbing expeditions) with Simone De Beauvoir, as well as his long struggles to complete Shoah.

Born in 1925, the filmmaker fought in the resistance before studying philosophy after the Second World War. He would later meet De Beauvoir, joining the publication Les Temps Modernes which she founded with Satre. For the publication, Lanzmann would write various articles about Israel, a subject that would also become a central theme to various later documentaries.

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