Schindler's List (1993)
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In the movie,Schindler is a greedy German businessman.Then he becomes unlikely humanitarian amid his exposure of the barbaric Nazi reign when he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews. Based on the true story,he managed to save about 1100 Jews from being gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Steven Spielberg rose to the occasion of directing the material by making sure that people do realize the horrors that the Jews have gone through during the Holocaust.It was simply a masterpiece.The use of black and white simply with simply touches of color like the girl in dress and the light of the candle provided what powerful emotions to the viewer.
Evidently,the screenplay was sharply written for the movie was authentic and sincere in its presentation.The story was simply moving and uplifting when the goodness of men were shown just as it was disturbing and horrifying when graphic violence and cruelties of men towards others were displayed.
The performances of the actors/actresses were simply fantastic.Neeson was excellent as Schindler,Kingsley was fantastic as Stern and most of all,Fiennes was real and horrifying like Goethe.The cast weren't over- the-top nor were they created like movie characters,but they were treated in the film like human beings with both positive and negative traits.
Finally,I could honestly say that this is one of the greatest films ever made that could rival The Godfather.This is truly a masterpiece.
The film is in black and white, a very conscious choice by the director that makes the subject matter, already disturbing, even more so bleak and harrowing. Oskar Schindler is known for saving thousands of Jews destined for a grim fate during World War 2. The movie depicts concentration camp life is fairly dismal, with constant brutal oppression by Nazi camp guards and the sadistic Amon Goth, with a terrifying portrayal by Ralph Fiennes.
Yes, this film will not make you cheery or happy. Yes it is about a miserable and dark period in human history, but it is an important film to watch for anyone interested in this historic subject matter and also a beautiful work of art for film lovers. Truly one of Spielberg's finest works. The fact that he is Jewish himself does add a personal touch to the tragic tale, but he never tries to overdo the sympathy or antipathy towards any group in the film. Everyone is human in it, the Jews and the Nazis; the tragedy is that humanity itself failed during this period of history, and we will never forget.
He tells us a film, in which, although he changes the real story and retouches it to make it more human, since Oskar Schindler used the Jews, as he tells in a sequence, the price of each nationality, which causes us all kinds of feelings.
The design of production as always great, he can do it, of course, but there are some who can and do it very badly.
All the actors, supported by the magnificent costumes and makeup are great, they seem to be real. Liam's presentation is great, fast and simple.
What a way to use ellipses, which are sometimes even fun, like when a woman goes on the train.
No matter how much you see it, it will surprise you again.
The photography is great, even when we see the girl in red, it may seem simple but I think it is not.
The direction, is the own one of someone who dominates to the perfection, the visual narrative. He knows where to put the camera at every moment to tell a story. You do not have time to get bored. He knows when to make a slow plane. Know how to compose so that everything is where it should be and you can have everything in sight. Neither camera movement, nor the plane, nor the short between planes is free.
I know it will be noticed that it is my favorite director but I can not help but surrender to someone who, apart from being commercial, is very good, I compare it to a Mercedes or a BMW, they will be commercial but they are good.
Spoiler: It is impressive to see how the sequence in which the architect dies, with a slight movement of camera, characters and staging, is putting everything in place to make you look where you should look. That if it is not going to prohibit you from looking anywhere, everything to focus and everything telling you at once, bring the woman on camera so you can see who is going to be killed while a German drinks a coffee, total symbol of tranquility, for enhance the moment more. What a great genius, moments like that there are many in the movie.
Many Jews attribute the resilience of their culture to a capacity for laughter in the face of catastrophe. As Saul Bellow said, "Oppressed people tend to be witty." Pogroms didn't start with Hitler; by the time the Spanish Inquisition burned a hundred thousand Jews, the story of Jewish oppression already could fill many volumes. Many peoples once multitudinous have perished from the earth: there are no Carthaginians left. There are no more Thracians to speak of. The Celts live only in musical traditions and some old literature, having been subsumed by their conquerors. Their gods are dead, and their languages, or nearly so. But the Jews thrive on. Something kept hope alive under Stalin, under Isabella, under the Caesars. A sense of humor is a great virtue, not to be undervalued.
But in order to make sure I appreciate the horror of the events portrayed, this movie cheats me of a glimpse at real life. The situations don't live as they might, because all the time I'm being flogged with message. There is no even partially redeemable Nazi in this movie, and Schindler's own late-stage change of heart is presented with such suddenness that the movie veers into melodrama. And even melodrama need not be propaganda; Minnelli and Ray always left us with choices. But "Schindler" must be classified as propaganda because it lacks the truth of even gallows humor, which by many reports existed in great abundance in the ghettos and even in the death camps.
The films of Bunuel and Altman are often political but rarely propagandist. The films of Michael Bay and Marcus Nispel are always propagandist and not always political, though they are of course always bad. So propaganda need not be political, and politics need not be propaganda. This shouldn't need saying, but in the modern age of American politics, it's worth remembering. I wish Steven Spielberg remembered it.
One can define propaganda objectively as a sort of forced perspective, a narrow range of potential reactions for the viewer. Propaganda is the use of art to persuade. It turns art into an expository essay. Propaganda is therefore by definition a limited form, limited by its very agenda. The tools of propaganda become less necessary the more inherently obvious the subject matter; the mass extermination of a people would seem to me to fit this category. So I think the style of this movie is unfortunately maudlin, an overkill on the negative. I am not heartless; I hate hate as much as anybody, and I celebrate Jews and all humans as valuable and not for burning. But is there no other way to express a political point than to make me cry for three hours?
The fact is that film as a medium lends itself to propaganda. There is a decision made about every angle; literally, the perspective is chosen for the viewer. This is not the case with other arts, with musical performance, acting, writing, sculpture; but the more visual the medium, the greater its tendency to make statements and the less its potential for ambiguity. It takes a lot of skill to manage a visual art form into something with real depth, into a question rather than an answer.
You can make propaganda about love, like "Love Story" or "English Patient"; you can make propaganda out of character, like "Patton" or "Lawrence of Arabia." The easiest and most common sorts of propaganda are flag-waving and hate-mongering - what's found in state of the union addresses and election campaign ads. At its best, propaganda can remind us of our values, of our responsibilities, of our mythologies and potentials; and so it can be a great good. At its worst, propaganda may contain any of the faults of any medium - it may be bland, dull, predictable. When it is these things, it is not very persuasive, and so it fails at its main intent.
In this light, "Schindler's List" is maybe the second-best type of propaganda. It has real emotion, a compelling story, myriad technical virtues; it leaves me with no choice but to agree with it, but of course I agree with it already insofar as genocide is not a force for good. The movie moves me to an extent. But it lacks comedy, the propagandist's most effective tool; and so when it pretends to explore a range of humanity, it tells a half-truth.
Liam Neeson plays an excellent cad, and Ralph Fiennes' raptor beak was never used to more terrifying effect. (It is among the many faults of the "Harry Potter" movies that they cut off his nose.) But I prefer "The Pianist" as a portrait of Nazi-occupied Poland. Aside from possessing greater artistic powers than Spielberg, Roman Polanski has an immensely deeper capacity for human truth. He does not preach, and he is not strident, and he is not sentimental. And he allows Adrien Brody to make me laugh occasionally, not as often as he makes me cry but sometimes. Shakespeare's trick of contrasting tragedy with comedy is not simply effective storytelling; it is a view to a more realized universe. "Jaws" has it. "E.T." has it. But Spielberg apparently felt that to be funny about the Holocaust would be in bad taste.
As far as propagandist filmmakers go, I'll take Charlie Chaplin or Paul Verhoeven. They are at least funny; the pill of "Great Dictator" or "Starship Troopers" goes down more easily, more persuasively, therefore more effectively, than the pill of "Schindler" or "Private Ryan."
Schindler's List is based on a 1983 novel, Schindler's Ark. It tells the story of the efforts of Oscar Schindler, a German, to help Jews during the Holocaust. Played by Liam Neeson, Oscar is not an easy character to comprehend. It takes you time to fully understand who he is. He is a person who might come across selfish to you at first. He is an opportunistic businessman. He comes across as one who, even during the wartime, is trying to find opportunities to make money rather than worrying about people's lives. But deep inside, he has a heart bigger than the most and at a time when Jews were struggling to find a helping hand, he helped more than a thousand Jews. He is not a person who will give you sympathy for you are going to lose someone close, but he is one who would take actions to save your closed one and not tell you when he does. You can see this in the movie when a Jewish lady approaches him begging to get her parents out of the concentration camp and into his factory. At first, he not only denies her help but also lashes out at his assistant showing frustration how his for-profit factory has come to be known to people outside as a charitable harbor for Jews. But you can hear the pain he feels for that lady and all the other Jews in his frustrated voice. Later in the scene, the lady's parents are shown being escorted out of the concentration camp into his factory.
The movie starts with how Oscar Schindler, in the midst of the Second World War, sets up a factory manufacturing pots and pans to supply to the German army. Oscar hires a Jewish accountant to manage the factory. While the account runs the factory enormously profitably for Schindler, he hires many Jews who would have otherwise ended up in concentration camps. By getting German SS guards to believe that they have the important skill sets required for the factory, he cleverly sneaks many Jews out of the concentration camps.
As Oscar is setting up his factory, the German SS is brutally evicting all the Jews out of their houses and moving them to ghettos and later to labor camps. As Oscar and his wife helplessly watch eviction of a ghetto from a hill overlooking it, he realizes the dreadfulness of the war and that he needs to look beyond the factory profits and help the Jews. The atrocities that the Jews face will touch your heart. In a scene of a labor camp, as little children are being taken away by German SS guards from their mothers, a child runs away to hide. He tries a few places including outhouses but finding them occupied by other children, he dives through a toilet seat in a toilet pit to hide. The fear of life on the face of the little child as he settles in the toilet pit will bleed your heart.
As the war progresses, the state of the Jews worsens. The SS plans to exterminate all the Jews and hence gradually starts moving them from labor camps to concentration camps. Oscar's pots and pans factory are not considered important enough for the war effort to continue employing the Jews anymore but he is determined to keep the Jews in his factory, by now called Schindler Jews, from the concentration camps as he devises a new plan.
Despite the dark and sad story-line, the movie has many snippets of humour. As Oscar's manager is cleverly hiring Jews in the factory by keeping the SS in dark, he also hires an old man without a left arm as a metal polisher. The state of the old man is sad and the act of the manager is kind. But the subtle humour in the situation is difficult to miss when Oscar comes to know about the old man and frustratingly asks his manager how the old man is useful for the factory.
Overall, Schindler's list is a heart-touching and a powerful movie that will force even a cold heart to warm for a moment. The movie is engaging and will keep you engaged for the entire three hours. It is a must-watch. I give it a rating of 9 out of 10.
This time when I watched the film I really surprised myself. I sat and cried like I haven't in years- but that's a good thing. I've been so divorced from my feelings and so wrapped up in my own selfish hell that I forgot what life is capable of becoming.
Now, Spielberg himself has admitted that he tends to over-sentimentalize things. Take the scene when Stern has just been rescued from the train by Schindler and as the two men walk away the camera pans to a large room where the suitcases of countless other souls less fortunate are being trifled through; a pile of personal photographs of family lay strewn amidst wasted boots and eye glasses. That scene destroyed me with emotion yet it was something that actually happened.
I will admit that towards the end, when Schindler was going on about how he could have sold his car to save more lives or sold his pin- even on second inspection, that scene seems rather forced- even enough for Jerry Seinfeld to mock. I was kind of mad at Spielberg. I mean, doesn't he know when to back off. It seems with an absolute masterpiece like this film, he would have been more careful and edited out this truly "sentimental" passage with violins going haywire.
Regardless, I'm in awe of this picture and with his latest- Saving Private Ryan, I do think that Spielberg is truly one of, if not, the greatest directors of film ever.
Oskar Schindler (played brilliantly by Liam Neeson, "Batman Begins") was a Sudeten German industrialist, a wealthy womanizer who wasn't afraid to throw his money around. Always bearing his Nazi Party badge proudly, Schindler would often frequent nightclubs, extravagantly showering high-ranked Nazi officers and their girlfriends with champagne and caviar. With impeccable connections in the black-market, there was little that he couldn't get his hands on, and he was a good person to know. Buying friends was something that Schindler could do well, and he would often use these newfound alliances to aid his own business ventures. When thousands of the Polish Jew population was relegated to the Kraków Ghetto in 1941, Schindler saw an opportunity for further success, enlisting desperate Jewish investors and employing Jewish workers (who were substantially cheaper to employ) to open an enamelware factory. His connections in high places ensured lucrative army contracts, and Schindler need only have watched as his personal fortune grew, despite doing little to run the company beyond offering it "a certain panache."
It is clear from the beginning that Oskar Schindler does not harbour any racial prejudices. When Schindler requests the services of Itzhak Stern (a superb Ben Kingsley, "Gandhi"), a clever, humanitarian Jewish accountant, Stern declares that, "By law I have to tell you, sir, I'm a Jew." "Well, I'm a German, so there we are," replies Schindler indifferently, before getting straight to business. It is not race that he is concerned with, it is himself and, of course, his money. Stern does not enjoy running Schindler's business, and he initially acquires little satisfaction from it. When Schindler attempts to convey his genuine gratitude for his profitable services with a glass of whiskey, Stern absentmindedly refuses to drink it, and an embittered Schindler drinks it himself before ordering Stern to leave.
With the arrival of Amon Goeth (played as the epitome of evil by Ralph Fiennes, "Red Dragon"), a Hauptsturmführer of the SS, the hopeless plight of the Jews grows darker. In a harrowing extended sequence, largely based on the testimonies of Holocaust survivors, the Jews are mercilessly "liquidated" from the Krakow Ghetto, many simply shot on the spot. "Today is history," proclaims Goeth. "Today will be remembered. Years from now the young will ask with wonder about this day. Today is history and you are part of it . For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. By this evening those six centuries will be a rumor. They never happened. Today is history."
This sequence also marks the celebrated appearance of the little girl in the red coat. An ingenious plot device, the character was based upon a real girl named Roma Ligocka who, unlike her film counterpart, survived the war, and wrote a memoir entitled "The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir". The embodiment of innocence, Schindler spots the small girl wandering amongst the black-and-white chaos of the Krakow Ghetto, and we follow her as she retreats into a building and takes shelter under a bed. When Schindler later notices her disheveled corpse carted past him to be incinerated, he is understandably horrified, unable to understand how the soldiers could possibly destroy something so innocent. This event memorably signifies the turning-point of Schindler's attitudes towards the carnage, fuelling his desire to save as many Jews as possible.
Long known as a "blockbuster" filmmaker with such adventure classics as "Jaws," "E.T. The Extra Terrestrial" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to his name - "Schindler's List" was - and remains - Steven Spielberg's most mature directorial effort. Working with a screenplay that Steven Zaillian adapted from Thomas Keneally's Booker Prize-winning 'Schindler's Ark,' Spielberg treats the subject matter with the respect it deserves. Wisely choosing to depict the events as realistically as possible, Spielberg allows the images to speak for themselves. Flawless acting, stunning cinematography and a haunting John Williams score excel this film above all others of the 1990s. This is the powerful story of the difference that just one man can make, and it is a story that deserves to be seen by all. We can only feel grateful that it was Steven Spielberg who chose to be at the helm.
EDIT: I wrote this when I was 12 or 13, and I'm so sorry about my AWFUL English... Ah, well just have that in mind when you read this. =)
The film starts off to reveal a womanizing, Nazi business man who profited off of slave labor. The Nazi business man is of course Oskar Schindler. Oskar is just like most men. He has a love for good wine, beautiful women, and pursues happiness through the success of his business. But on his journey to a successful business, millions of Jews were being killed during a time which most label as one of the darkest periods of human history. As Oskar made money, innocent people were being murdered. That's when the self-centered, often money hungry Oskar steps in and gives up his goal of having a successful business to save the lives of over 1,000 Jews.
This film is about redemption and was beautifully photographed in black and white by Janusz Kaminski (cinematographer). At the helm is no one other than Steven Spielberg, who brilliantly called non-pretentious shots and brought back to life a time and period most want to forget, but shouldn't. This film is a must see by me. I give the film an "A+" (wishing I could give it a higher grade than that) and a 10 out of 10...
The cast was wonderful, the three main leads being excellent in their performances (Neeson, Kingsley and Fiennes) and the supporting cast were just as good. Janusz Kaminski's camerawork was brilliant. John Williams score was incredibly moving, and deserved the Oscar. The music is easily related to Jewish styles of the period. On the whole, a brilliant film, unforgettable, and a lesson to all. It shows that even the most hardened people can change.