Shoa, by Claud Lanzmann, was a break through. The film, a documentary, showed for the first time a different angle of the holocaust. It tells the story of the holocaust without the difficult pictures of the war, of the concentration and death camps. The intimacy of the viewer with the faces of the everyday people, the interviewees, gives the audience a sense of familiarity, turning the victims and their executers from unperceivable, magnificent numbers to real people who live today just like the viewers do.

Shoah does not have standard beginning or ending: the film simply starts and stops, the interviews do not follow any historical time-line (e.g. the war time-line) or geographical reference. Instead, Lanzmann presents the interviews in what seems to be a random order, free from any traditional focal point. This way of presentation serves to show that the holocaust is an event that cannot be perceived in traditional tools, and the only way to reflect it is by looking at as many as possible of its pieces. By not putting an official end to the film and simply stopping it, Lanzmann implies that the film cannot be ended nor it will ever be.

In the editing of Shoah Lanzmann is trying not to interfere with the interviews; in cases where they last for 10-20 minutes or more he “breaks” the monotonic image of the interview with landscape footage he shot on the spot or that is geographically related to the interview. He insists on not bringing any historical footage, not even showing photographs or documents. When he does use a document (e.g. the letter to the “Krop” engineers regarding their crematoriums functioning) he does it by using a voice over. I believe that Lanzmann does not use original footage from the war in order to minimize the cumulative effect of the images we are so used to seeing (the well known images of the death camps). By avoiding from doing so, he allows the viewers to cognitively assess the facts, and not the myth, the accepted symbol. Because we, the viewers, are highly used to seeing the horrific images, those pictures no longer have their shocking effect, they may unintentionally become a screen of smoke, between the viewers and the representations of the holocaust.