An Archive of the Catastrophe: The Unused Footage of Claude Lanzmann's Shoah

SUNY Press
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Comprehensive analysis of 220 hours of outtakes that impels us to reexamine our assumptions about a crucial Holocaust documentary.


Claude Lanzmann’s 1985 magnum opus, Shoah, is a canonical documentary on the Holocaust—and in film history. Over the course of twelve years, Lanzmann gathered 230 hours of location filming and interviews with survivors, witnesses, and perpetrators, which he condensed into a 9½-hour film. The unused footage was scattered and inaccessible for years before it was restored and digitized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In An Archive of the Catastrophe, Jennifer Cazenave presents the first comprehensive study of this collection. She argues that the outtakes pose a major challenge to the representational and theoretical paradigms produced by the documentary, while offering new meanings of Shoah and of Holocaust testimony writ large. They lend fresh insight into issues raised by the film, including questions of resistance, rescue, refugees, and, above all, gender—Lanzmann’s twenty hours of interviews with women make up a mere ten minutes of the finished documentary. As a rare instance of outtakes preserved during the predigital era of cinema, this unused footage challenges us to establish a new critical framework for understanding how documentaries are constructed and reshapes the way we view this key Holocaust film.


“Cazenave’s immense work of scholarship and reflection offers an intimate and exacting account of the way Lanzmann’s approach to the project shifted and changed over the years of its creation. Never before has there been a more insightful study of the evolution of his thinking. I believe that any scholar who has worked on this film will agree.” — Stuart Liebman, editor of Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah: Key Essays


“This monumental book will profoundly change our understanding of Shoah and Lanzmann’s highly influential shaping of the Holocaust narrative. Cazenave reveals that the significance of Shoah is not only found in what is in it, but, perhaps more importantly, what was omitted from it.” — Aaron Kerner, author of Film and the Holocaust: New Perspectives on Dramas, Documentaries, and Experimental Films

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About the author

Jennifer Cazenave is Assistant Professor of French at Boston University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Jun 1, 2019
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781438474786
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Holocaust
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. 

In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

Praise for The Diary of a Young Girl

“A truly remarkable book.”—The New York Times

“One of the most moving personal documents to come out of World War II.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“There may be no better way to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II than to reread The Diary of a Young Girl, a testament to an indestructible nobility of spirit in the face of pure evil.”—Chicago Tribune

“The single most compelling personal account of the Holocaust . . . remains astonishing and excruciating.”—The New York Times Book Review

“How brilliantly Anne Frank captures the self-conscious alienation and naïve self-absorption of adolescence.”—Newsday
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