Thoughts On: Shoah - A Historical Document


Shoah - A Historical Document

Quick Thoughts: Shoah (The Holocaust, 1985)

11 years of questioning what the Holocaust was and what its impact is.

What can I say? What can I write down for you to read having just spent a whole day with this film? How can I choose--how can I even decipher a moment to talk about? What am I to articulate, and how am I to do this?

These are questions I don't think I have any good answers for, and so I won't try to confront them - not yet. However, I can try to tell you what this is. Shoah is one of the greatest and most important documentaries ever made - I don't think such a point is debatable. This is not a documentary about history, however. Rather, Shoah is a historical document. In such, this never attempts to directly explore and bring back to life the Holocaust. The Holocaust is instead so often symbolised by the sound of heavy wheels on old train tracks; it is a happening lost in the past that no one can ever bring to the present to explain in full or even comprehend, yet it is also a weight that the world will likely never feel alleviated. With the train repeatedly used as a symbol of the Holocaust it is shown as the climax of the industrial age and the precipice of a new, forthcoming one. Moreover, it is portrayed as an entity that has evolved, but nonetheless remains. What Shoah does so well is manifest this ominous train with detail, scope and depth, and then have it run through your consciousness, billowing voices whose words, it seems, we will never be able to listen to properly.

It is ultimately a gross understatement to say that this has left me speechless as I don't even know how to deal with what it has left me. This is a film that everyone needs to see once in their life time. Find a day, and spend it with this film, and then you will know what Shoah is.

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