Claude Lanzmann found himself transfixed by the look of those who knew they were about to die. By witnessing it, he joined them in their loneliness
Lanzmann's most renowned work, Shoah (1985), is a nine-and-a-half-hour oral history of the Holocaust, broadly considered to be the foremost film on the subject. Shoah is made without the use of any historical footage, and uses only first-person testimony from perpetrators and victims, and contemporary footage of Holocaust-related sites. Interviewees include the Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski and Raul Hilberg, the American Holocaust historian. When the film was released, the director also published the complete text, including in English translation, with introductions by Lanzmann and Simone de Beauvoir.
Lanzmann disagreed, sometimes angrily, with attempts to understand the why of Hitler, stating that the evil of Hitler cannot or should not be explained and that to do so is immoral and an obscenity.
On 4 July 2018, his latest work, Les Quatre Soeurs (The Four Sisters) was released, featuring testimonials from four Holocaust survivors not included in his Shoah. Lanzmann died the following day.