I am unqualified to comment on this film's authenticity. However, I believe that to the extent possible and appropriate, Spielberg and his screen writers Steven Zaillian and Allan Starski were faithful as well as respectful to the historical material first provided to Thomas Keneally by "Schindlerjuden" ("Schindler's Jews"). The film is based on his book, Schindler's Ark (1982), later retitled Schindler's List. In 1993, the film as well as Spielberg and Zaillian and Starski were among the recipients of Academy Awards.
The basic situation is that Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is a German industrialist in Poland whose company manufactures household items. After the Jews in the Krakow ghetto are transported to the Plaszow Forced Labor Camp in 1942, and Schindler's company is required to manufacture munitions for the German war effort, he seizes the opportunity to have Jews work for him as unpaid laborers. He maintains cordial relations with German officers with bribes and lavish entertainment and even enlists Commandant Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) as his negotiator to obtain concessions (for a price) from Goeth's superior. The war continues. Over time, for reasons revealed in the film, Schindler develops a benevolent and then paternalistic attitude toward his Jewish workers, all of whose names are carefully recorded on a list compiled by the company's secretary/treasurer, Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley). Schindler exhausts his funds trying to protect them from reassignment to concentration camps. Eventually his efforts save approximately 1,100 Jews but by the film's conclusion, he is a bankrupt and broken man. His own life has also become "a sacrifice completely consumed by fire."
Important films are not necessarily great films. Schindler's List is both. For obvious reasons, it portrays experiences of unique importance to Jews but to a Gentile such as I, it also has much of great value to say about what it means to be a human being worthy of the name. From accounts provided by the "Schindlerjuden," Spielberg and his associates created great cinematic art without even once allowing even the subtlest suggestion of melodrama or sentimentality to compromise the humanity of Oskar Schindler or, more importantly, the integrity of those on his list.
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By employing Jews in his crockery factory manufacturing goods for the German army, Schindler ensures their survival against terrifying odds. At the same time, he must remain solvent with the help of a Jewish accountant (Ben Kingsley) and negotiate business with a vicious, obstinate Nazi commandant (Ralph Fiennes) who enjoys shooting Jews as target practice from the balcony of his villa overlooking a prison camp. Schindler's List gains much of its power not by trying to explain Schindler's motivations, but by dramatizing the delicate diplomacy and determination with which he carried out his generous deeds.
As a drinker and womanizer who thought nothing of associating with Nazis, Schindler was hardly a model of decency; the film is largely ...