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Schindler's List (movie)

A Holocaust drama directed by Steven Spielberg.

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Eerie, touching, will haunt me for a long, long time...

  • Apr 30, 2000
  • by
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.

As we wandered outside through the grounds which look up at the walls of a prison looming nearby, I saw plaque upon plaque inscribed with the nationalities of the many people who died at this place. There were Americans, Mexicans, Canadians, English, and just about any nation you could name represented here. As we walked across the garden I saw a hideous sculpture of an emaciated human in the rictus of death. It was just then that my dear friend Rainer said, "You know, that Spielberg fellow is making a film about Oskar Schindler." I had to profess my ignorance, never having heard of Schindler. Rainer gave me the story in a nutshell, talking about the Schindler Jews that were saved from all this we had been seeing. I'd not heard about the film yet, but when I returned to the states I started paying attention and went to see the film as soon as it came out.

Liam Neeson acts the part of Oskar Schindler. All through the film he gives the impression of the loyal Nazi, out for personal gain, yet his humanity is alluded to from the beginning and is confirmed without doubt before the end of the film. Schindler is known for saving a large number of Jewish people by claiming them as trained factory workers that are supporting the cause of the Third Reich. He manages to keep the same group of folks with him as he relocates during the war.

The film itself is finely crafted. It is without doubt a work of art and I have no apprehension that history will view it so. There is a single spot of color found in this black and white film -- a little girl in a red coat -- and it provides such tremendous emphasis that one cannot help but be moved when the spot of color is apparent on a wagon load of corpses.

Itzak Stern played by Ben Kingsley is an excellent counterpart to Neeson's Schindler. He is the loyal, yet cynical employee who learns admiration for his Nazi employer. Throughout the film there are situations that threaten Schindler's employees, for example, the trainload of women and children are routed to Auschwitz. Schindler is offered replacement "units" but he perseveres to get back the wives and children of his employees. When a commandant tries to remove the children, Schindler holds up a child and tells him that they are "essential workers" with fingers small enough to polish the inside of shell casings. Later, Schindler tells Stern that if one shell manufactured by Schindler's plant is capable of being fired that he will be most unhappy.

As the war draws to a close, Schindler learns that his Jews are in danger. The Reich grows weaker and paranoid. To keep his people safe, Schindler virtually "buys" them from the Reich. At the movie's end, he berates himself for keeping his car and other personal possessions, because he thinks that he could have gotten more people out. As the war ends, Schindler tells his workers that they are free, and that he must flee as a war criminal. Quite a startling contrast to the beginning of the film where Schindler is a high-roller hobnobbing with Nazi elite.

For me the most touching part was the closing of the film, where the actors accompany the real life people they portrayed in the film as the one-by-one place a stone on Schindler's grave. I've seen this film probably fifteen times and I cry every time I see this part and I'm even misty as I write about it here....

This film is of outstanding quality, both the production of it and the acting found therein. It is well deserving of the many awards that it earned. This is one that should be included in the discerning person's home library.


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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 15, 2003
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 …
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 …
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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 ...

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