Claude Lanzmann's Sobibor (2001) and Romuald Karmakar's Land of Annihilation (2004) are contrasting cinematic documentaries that return the viewer to German concentration camps in Poland. While Lanzmann insists on the pathos of the primary witness, whose words, like the places themselves, are an expression of authenticity, Karmakar encounters sites of destruction as would a naive witness. He plays the role of the interested observer, who views, as if for the first time, the traces of the Holocaust. He deliberately refuses film aesthetics as they have been shaped by Lanzmann, and his emphasis on pure observation can be termed an “aesthetics of withdrawal.” Insofar as this marks him as a younger documentary filmmaker, his approach reveals major differences between the directors' two generations.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.