Schindler’s List

Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.

Oskar Schindler saved over one thousand Jews by protecting them as his workers during the Holocaust. These events have inspired Thomas Keneally, an Australian novelist, to write a book that was adapted into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. This movie, Schindler’s List, is widely regarded as one of the best American films of all time.

The events surrounding the adaptation of this story were curious. Leopold Pfefferberg, one of the survivors of the Holocaust and a friend of Oskar Schindler, persuaded Steven Spielberg into taking the project on. Spielberg was instantly drawn to the story, especially to the morally ambiguous character of Schindler, but he also felt he wasn’t mature enough to bring the tragic story of the Kraków Jews to the public in such a way that it does their pain justice.

Spielberg tried to pass the project to other directors, but ended up taking it on when he realized that the public opinion was swaying towards Holocaust denial. This story was personally important to him, and directing it affected him, and so many other people, on a very deep level.

Schindler’s list tells the story of a charismatic businessman and a member of the Nazi party, Oskar Schindler, played by then relatively unknown Liam Neeson, who stumbles into saving the lives of the Jews working at his factory. At first, they’re just cheap labor for him. Why would he pay the Poles when he could pay the SS less for Jewish workers?

Eventually, he starts seeing that, although robbed of the basic human dignity, the Jews were still unquestionably human, something not even the antagonist of the movie, Amon Göth, could deny entirely.

Schindler’s transition into a savior figure is gradual. From a womanizer who cared only about making more money, he turns into someone who gives away all of his fortune in order to save people. However, this movie isn’t entirely focused on his decisions. Instead, it showcases the horrors of the Holocaust, the murder of thousands upon thousands of innocent people, and the scars the survivors were left to deal with. It’s not an easy movie to watch, and it wasn’t an easy movie to make. The impact of it is both devastating and cathartic.

What’s interesting about it is that it’s almost entirely shot in black and white, with only a few symbols highlighted with color. The beginning and the end, as well as the candle flames, as the symbol of hope. And the red coat of the little girl Schindler notices in the street, a symbol of innocence. The loss of this innocence is a force that moves Schindler to act.

This movie is also shot like a documentary, inspired by the actual sources on the Holocaust, and the idea was to make it look timeless. Interestingly, it was recorded in only about 70 days, which gives it an emotional punch. The music, composed by John Williams, adds a level of authenticity to the movie.

But the one thing that makes it the most authentic, and the one thing that stands out the most, is the acting of Ralph Fiennes as Amon Göth, a Nazi war criminal. Watching him, we are left frightened by what a sadistic man can do when given the power to kill. In one scene, Schindler describes him as a man who enjoys food and drink, like everyone else. A normal man with likes and troubles and urges.

And that may just be the most important message of this movie. We tend to see the Nazis as inhuman. Evil. And this isn’t incorrect. Their acts were undoubtedly evil. But it’s important not to forget they were human, it’s important not to deny that what they did to an entire people in their hatred was a human deed, and a human fault. And as such, we need to learn from it and make sure it never happens again. We can only do that by empathizing with the victims and keeping their pain close to us at all time, and this movie does exactly that.

Because one day it could be us.

IMDb 4.4 /5
4.4 out of 5
Rotten Tomatoes 4.8 /5
4.8 out of 5
Rogue Cinema 4.8 /5
4.8 out of 5
Overall

Combined average

4.67out of 5

Good
4.67 out of 5
Category Action