Un réel pour le XXI sciècle
IXth Congress of the WAP • 14-18 april 2014 • Paris • Palais des Congrès • www.wapol.org

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Claude Lanzmann
The real put to the test of The Last of the Unjust

Interview by Anaëlle Lebovits-Quenehen

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Claude Lanzmann's film, The Last of the Unjust, is born from a contingency. Shot during the preparation of Shoah, the rushes that constitute the main material were first lost for the Cinema, stored at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. However, it so happened that some took the liberty to make use of this footage to make a film in which Claude Lanzmann and Benjamin Murmelstein appear together. Invited to the film premiere in Vienna, Lanzmann "flew into rage": "if there is to be a film with Murmelstein, I will do it", he declared. This is how a film project about Benjamin Murmelstein rose from ashes.

But why did this complex character, that Claude Lanzmann adores, with whom he had a one-week-long-discussion in Rome on the eve of Shoah, not find its place ? With what impossible did the last president of the Jewish Council in the Theresienstadt ghetto confront Claude Lanzmann? Why did this alternative impose itself onto the director: a film centered around him or nothing? And eventually, why this film rather than nothing? Claude Lanzmann enlightens us on the odd destiny of a thought that came to him in one of these moments of creation: "one does not save it all".

Translation: Julien Marzouk