Shoah [and Four Films After Shoah] (Masters of Cinema) review

Claude Lanzmann's Holocaust epic remains a milestone in documentary cinema

French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann's Shoah is a fascinating and horrifying account of the Nazi's 'Final Solution'. Shot over the course of 12 years, as Lanzmann travelled the globe looking for Holocaust survivors, this nine-and-a-half-hour film (divided into two parts – First Era and Second Era – and spread across two discs here) interviews concentration camp inmates, eyewitnesses and even former SS commandants, as well as visiting several Holocaust sites across Poland. The result is truly extraordinary and highly recommended.

Picture: The foundation of this hi-def presentation of Shoah is a 2K restoration (based on a 4K digital scan of the original 16mm negatives) undertaken at the L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in Bologna.

Given the limitations of the source, the AVC-encoded 1.37:1 1080p encode holds up very well indeed. Detailing is consistent, colours are rich (with none of the green tint that affected Criterion's 2013 US release) and the dense grain is handled brilliantly, ensuring that the image retains an authentic film-like texture. 
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: We've no complaints about the LPCM mono soundtrack either. Admittedly, the track's almost exclusive focus on dialogue reproduction means that it doesn't offer much for audiophiles to sink their teeth into. But, as with the picture, the most important thing is that there's not a trace of any damage or distortion on the track.
Audio rating: 3.5/5

Extras: As the title of Eureka's Blu-ray release indicates, it not only includes Shoah, but also four other films Lanzmann created from additional footage shot for, but ultimately not used in, that documentary.

A Visitor from the Living (68 minutes) sees former leader of the International Committee of the Red Cross Maurice Rossell discuss the living conditions within the 'model ghetto' town of Theresienstadt. Meanwhile, Sobibór, October 14, 1943, 4 P.M. (102 minutes) is a lengthy interview with Yehuda Lerner, who took part in an uprising at the Sobibór concentration camp.

Also included are The Karski Report (49 minutes), featuring Polish underground member Jan Karski, and The Last of the Unjust (219 minutes) – which mixes a series of interviews with former Vienna Chief Rabbi Benjamin Murmelstein recorded in 1975 with Claude Lanzmann's return to Theresienstadt in 2012.

And if you're not exhausted after all that, there's hefty 300-page book of essays to peruse.
Extras rating: 5/5

We say: An incredible Blu-ray boxset for a powerful, horrifying and unforgettable piece of documentary filmmaking. Unmissable.

Shoah [and Four Films After Shoah], Eureka! Masters of Cinema, Region B BD, £70 Approx