Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » Schindler's List » User review

Schindler's List (movie)

A Holocaust drama directed by Steven Spielberg.

< read all 8 reviews

The Rest Is Silence

  • Jul 15, 2003
  • by
I saw this movie for the first time along with a group of seven other people, in a completely full theater. When the curtain went down and the lights came on, everyone got up and moved to the door, but no one said a word. Not one. It was dead quiet all the way out to the street. I've never experienced anything like that.

I was raised knowing all about the six million we lost in the Holocaust, not to mention the five or six million others who died in the camps, but I didn't really get it until Spielberg silenced me and everyone else in the room. How did he do it?

First of all, he chose the right protagonist. Oskar Schindler, the savior of a thousand Jews, was anything but an angel - he toadied up to those in power unashamedly, paid bribes with money he didn't have, took advantage of the unfortunate for his own ends, cheated endlessly on his wife, and kept his eye on his bottom line to the exclusion of everything else. He was flawed, vulnerable and human, like you and me, and through his reaction to what he sees we can feel the indescribable horror as we could not through the reactions of a saint. There's a scene in this movie where Schindler, out for a horseback ride with one of his girlfriends, happens upon a mountain of corpses being burned. A saint might look sad or angry at such a scene - Liam Neeson's expression is that of a man falling off a cliff he didn't know was there. Faced with such carnage, that's probably how I'd look, too.

Spielberg's other smart move was filming "Schindler's List" in black and white. Siskel and Ebert have pointed out, rightly, that black and white makes images appear somehow eternal, like historical documents rather than mere pictures. That's certainly true here, but it works on many levels. Sometimes the black and white photography has a matte finish and takes on the character of news photography, showing how banal (and therefore how terrifying) an image is, such as those times when Ralph Fiennes Commandant Goeth shoots a few passing prisoners for breakfast. On the other hand, "Schindler's List" contains a great many images that look like they were etched on mirrors, such as the famous shot of a little boy hiding from the Nazis at the bottom of a latrine. At those moments, even when (as one character says) "all around lies the gulf," the pictures soak up a truly heavenly light, as though Someone were watching.

The performers involved certainly behave as though Someone were watching, and they turn in the work of their lives, from the stars to the bit players. Neeson has just the right sort of big, craggy face that can show decadence one minute and agony the next, and he's got the talent to run the whole gamut in all the right places. Fiennes, in his first major role, resembles nothing so much as a sort of human hog, but a cunning and crazed one - he seems able to sweat on cue. Ben Kingsley as Schindler's factory manager, with almost no change in his facial expression, makes us see how he moves from suspicion to hope to love for this strange animal, his boss. And besides these monumental performances, there's the black marketeer who finagles his customers with one breath and loves his wife with the next; the engineer who sacrifices her life to the fact that concrete needs to be poured with care; the old hinge-maker who waits on his knees for a miracle involving a jammed gun; the pretty young woman who informs Schindler that he's running a haven rather than a factory; the kindly but finally gutless industrialist, and a many dozen others, all unforgettable.

And then there's Spielberg's damping down his usual sentimentality, his choice of Yiddish music for the soundtrack, his placement of the camera at a quiet and unobtrusive angle for the worst of evils - I found all of this pretty nearly perfect, but there were those who complained about the movie's historical inaccuracy. In one scene, much noted for its supposed softening of the facts, Schindler's female "employees" find themselves in a big room with shower heads in the ceiling and actually get a shower instead of a flood of poison gas. It's true that most prisoners were not so fortunate, and that such scenes may play into the hands of the filth who claim that there was no cyanide in the camps, but I can't see that as an argument against this movie. If nothing else, the looks of tension on the women's faces before the water comes down is more than enough to tell us what they expect to get.

After all, Spielberg is not a documentarian, he's a storyteller; this story could not have had a better servant. The meaning of the Holocaust is as plain as plain here, particularly at the end when Schindler realizes that he could have saved a few more human beings if he had just thought to sell his car or his gold Nazi pin. He crumples weeping to his knees, only to be lifted up by the men and women he has saved.

A little later we learn that the descendants of Schindler's Jews living in Israel outnumber the entire current Jewish population of Poland. That silences all criticism, as the movie audience already knew. Hence the quiet after the final credits.

Benshlomo says nothing.

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
More Schindler's List reviews
Quick Tip by . March 31, 2013
posted in Movie Hype
I know I'll be loathed for not giving Schindler's List a perfect rating, but here's my stance on it.      While the overall story was presented in a really good fashion, what I thought hindered this movie a little was the black-and-white cinematography and the use of English-speaking actors speaking in German accents.  The former in that the visuals don't show the true colors of the horrors of the Holocaust, merely making it look …
review by . April 22, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Theatrical poster
Steven Spielberg has always been a director for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration. Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, Spielberg had one colossal success after another (not including his mega-flop 1941) and yet he never received the critical praise that he deserved. Most of Spielberg's films at the time fell into two categories: adventure and science fiction. Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark became his crowning achievements in the adventure genre and Close Encounters of the Third …
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Powerful performances of all actors masterfully put together into a great film by Spielberg.
review by . November 28, 2008
Schindler's List
Wow. Just wow. That's all. Gripping, moving, tear jerking, uplifting, top notch acting, stunning photography, script line in synch with the book, true life ending, OMG. This is the story of Oskar Schindler who kept over 1,000 people alive during the Nazi reign. This is a movie (and book) you must watch (or read) to believe. I generally do not care for "war" movies, and although I love splatter films and gory fiction books, I despise real life violence. Having once been a victim of violent crime, …
review by . November 12, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
I have only seen this on the big screen so I am not sure how it looks on video. The use of black and white was sheer genious and the times color was used was the most effective since The Wizard of Oz. I am not a huge Liam Neelson fan but his performance in this film was huge. The film is the closest I have seen to capturing the horror of the holocaust while still having the characters appear very human.
review by . July 12, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Curious about the etymology of "holocaust," I again consulted John Ayto's ever-reliable Dictionary of Word Origins and learned that the word has classical origins (as do most other words) and was first used in English by John Milton in reference to "complete destruction by fire." Related meanings include "a complete burning" (from "burnt offering") and "a sacrifice completely consumed by fire." In our own time we capitalize the word when referring to the process of systematic elimination by the …
review by . April 30, 2000
Pros: Very moving, quality film crafting     Cons: Adult situations, not for small children     The third of January, 1994 was a quiet cool afternoon as I walked with friends through the grounds of Neuengamme, a concentration camp near Hamburg, Germany. I was very moved by the photographs inside the memorial, heartbroken by the letters written to other family members, and haunted by the ghosts of the many thousands who died there.      …
About the reviewer

Ranked #633
Member Since: Sep 24, 2010
Last Login: Oct 17, 2010 08:02 AM UTC
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie


Steven Spielberg had a banner year in 1993. He scored one of his biggest commercial hits that summer with the mega-hitJurassic Park, but it was the artistic and critical triumph ofSchindler's Listthat Spielberg called "the most satisfying experience of my career." Adapted from the best-selling book by Thomas Keneally and filmed in Poland with an emphasis on absolute authenticity, Spielberg's masterpiece ranks among the greatest films ever made about the Holocaust during World War II. It's a film about heroism with an unlikely hero at its center--Catholic war profiteer Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who risked his life and went bankrupt to save more than 1,000 Jews from certain death in concentration camps.

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 ...

view wiki


Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Biography, Drama, History, War
Release Date: December 15, 1993
Runtime: 195 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
Polls with this movie

Steven Spielberg Films


American Beauty

Oscar Winning Movies


© 2015 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since