Claude Lanzmann, The Patagonian Hare

New autobiography from the maker of Shoah
Claude Lanzmann
Paul Berman (New York Times) reviews Claude Lanzmann's autobiography, The Patagonian Hare:
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs approached Claude Lanzmann in 1973 and suggested that, with Israel’s backing, he make a documentary film about the murder of the European Jews. Lanzmann was and is a French journalist, and his qualifications for undertaking such a project were obvious at a glance. He had spent many years producing copy for the glossy French magazine Elle and, then again, for mass-­readership newspapers. He sat on the editorial committee of Jean-Paul Sartre’s magazine Les Temps Modernes. He was handy with a film camera. Also, he had displayed an acute sympathy for the plight of the Israelis — a less-than-­universal trait even in those days.

The proposed topic was vast, though, and the necessary research, endless. By 1977, he still had nothing to show for his efforts, and the impatient Israelis canceled the funding. Lanzmann responded by tripping down a stairway and fracturing a foot. “The Patagonian Hare” is his autobiography, and the book makes clear that pratfalls in a distinctly cinematic style — a car crash, an overturned boat, Alpine hiking disasters, a run-in with a plate-glass window — have punctuated his life the way skin rashes might announce the anxieties of someone more conventionally neurotic. [Read More]
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