In 1985, Lanzmann made the epic documentary Shoah, which charted the experiences of the Jews in the Nazi death camps entirely through personal reminiscence rather than by means of dramatic reconstruction or use of archive footage. Left out of the nine-hour cut was an interview conducted with one Yehuda Lerner, rightly deemed substantial enough to deserve a film of its own. Lerner is a Polish Jew who, after escaping from eight different camps, found himself in Sobibor, where he took part in a successful uprising against the German officers. As the camera retraces his journey through the countryside as it appears today, finally to settle on Lerner's face as he details the meticulous scheme that ended with his killing of two Nazis, the film gives the lie to the stereotypical myth about Jews being complicit in their own suffering, as well as suggesting just what it took to make a 16-year-old boy turn to murder. It's an immensely sobering film, of course, albeit not without its moments of dark humour, and wholly lucid and unsentimental in the sheer simplicity of its methods.
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