PARIS — French director Claude Lanzmann, whose 91/2-hour masterpiece “Shoah” bore unflinching witness to the Holocaust through the testimonies of Jewish victims, German executioners and Polish bystanders, has died at the age of 92.

Gallimard, the publishing house for Lanzmann’s autobiography, said he died Thursday in Paris. It gave no further details.

The power of “Shoah,” filmed in the 1970s during Lanzmann’s trips to the barren Polish landscapes where the slaughter of Jews was planned and executed, was in viewing the Holocaust as an event in the present, rather than as history. It contained no archival footage, no musical score – just the landscape, trains and recounted memories.

Lanzmann was 59 when the movie, his second, came out in 1985. It defined the Holocaust for those who saw it, and defined him as a filmmaker.

“I knew that the subject of the film would be death itself. Death rather than survival,” Lanzmann wrote in the autobiography. “For 12 years I tried to stare relentlessly into the black sun of the Shoah.”

“Claude Lanzmann’s cinematic work left an indelible mark on the collective memory, and shaped the consciousness of the Holocaust of viewers around the world, in these and other generations,” said Avner Shalev, chairman of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

“His departure from us now, along with our recent separation from many Holocaust survivors, marks the end of an era.”

“Shoah” was nearly universally praised. Roger Ebert called it “one of the noblest films ever made” and Time Out and The Guardian were among those ranking it the greatest documentary of all time. The Polish government was a notable dissenter, which dismissed the film as “anti-Polish propaganda” (but later allowed “Shoah” to be aired in Poland).

In 2013, nearly three decades later, Lanzmann revisited the Holocaust with “The Last of the Unjust,” focusing on his interviews in 1975 with a Vienna rabbi who was the last “elder” of the Theresienstadt ghetto, which was used by the Nazis to fool visitors into believing that the Jews were being treated humanely.

His final work, a series of interviews with four Holocaust survivors stitched together into a single 41/2 hour film, was released in French theaters Wednesday. But even before that, Lanzmann showed his breadth with the 2017 documentary “Napalm,” which narrated his visit to North Korea in the late 1950s, including him recounting his unconsummated affair with a Red Cross nurse in the country.

“The cinematic work of Claude Lanzmann shows how much art contributes to the construction of our collective memory, giving individual resonance to each story,” said Audrey Azoulay, a former French culture minister and current director general of UNESCO.

Lanzmann was born on Nov. 27, 1925, in Paris, the child of French Jews. After his mother left in 1934 and the war broke out, Claude and his two siblings moved to a farm where their father timed his children as they practiced escaping to a shelter he had dug. Lanzmann ultimately joined the Resistance.

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