"the writer, former resistance fighter and film director"

Film There's a long, engrossing, good old fashioned interview in yesterday's Observer with Claude Lanzmann, the "the writer, former resistance fighter and film director" who amongst many, many other things (he's the kind of man who proves The Indiana Jones Chronicles isn't that unlikely) produced Shoah, the epic Holocaust documentary and one of the few works which could in any way be described as essential viewing for anyone interested in either film or history.  He reveals to interviewer Ed Vulliamy something of his process:
"I had to know as much as I could before shooting anything, in order to help them talk in front of camera. The act of shooting is to create something in itself, that cannot be foreseen – and I could not foresee the moment when Bomba suddenly broke." It is a fearsome, indescribable moment, when the "skin" begins to crack before our eyes, between the face and voice of the barber, and what he knows – yet apparently not so; Bomba survived not only Treblinka, but the telling of Treblinka.

"In the beginning, he talked in a cold manner, as if it did not happen to him, but to someone else. I had to stop that, and bring him back to talking about what he did, to talk about himself. But one has to be on permanent alarm in such talk, as the tension grows, and we cannot be sure what will happen – this is not theatre, this is real."
Lanzmann talks also about Shoah's original screenings which with its nine hour running time mostly consistenting of shots of the concentration camps and close-ups of victims, witnesses and perpetrators must have been an intimidating prospect.  Even on dvd, it's a captivating, emotionally draining experience.  People had to take breaks.  But they always returned.

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