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Lanzmann, Claude


LANZMANN, CLAUDE (1925– ), French cinema director and essayist. Lanzmann was born in Paris and was active in the Resistance during World War ii. After completing his studies in philosophy in France, he lectured at the University of Berlin in 1948–49. In 1952 he became acquainted with Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, becoming their personal friend and a partner in their philosophical and public endeavors. Sartre, de Beauvoir, and Lanzmann founded the journal Les temps modernes (1946), and Lanzmann served as one of its editors. In 1970 Lanzmann left journalism for film and spent three years preparing Pourquoi Israël? ("Why Israel?"), which received warm reviews when it was screened in 1973. Lanzmann's most famous film, Shoah, on which he worked for over ten years, premiered in France in 1985 with President Mitterrand of France in attendance. Over nine hours in length, the film consists of extended interviews with Jewish victims, Nazi perpetrators, and Polish bystanders. In choosing not to use primary documentary footage, Lanzmann was convinced that the horrible reality of the Holocaust would emerge from the description of the terrifying events by the interviewees. Shoah was subsequently shown in London, New York, and Israel, as well as on television stations throughout the world. Other films directed by Lanzmann include Tsahal (1994), a documentary on the Israeli army; Un vivant qui passe (1997),an extensive interview with Maurice Rossel, a Red Cross official who wrote a glowing report of the Theresienstadt camp after visiting it in 1943; and Sobibor (2001), an examination of the revolt in 1943 through the eyes of one of is participants.

[Gideon Kouts /

David Weinberg (2nd ed.)]

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