Schindler's List

RATED-(R) -195-MIN-1993

Important, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful, Steven Spielberg’s: (Schindler’s List) is a film that everyone should see at the appropriate age. Filmed in stark black and white (except for a few crucial moments) Schindler's List tells the story of: Oscar Schindler (Liam Neesen) a German businessman, member of the Nazi Party and opportunist, who sees the beginning of World War II in Poland, as way to start a factory and manufacture military supplies using cheap labor. Schindler, a man of great appetite and excesses, decides to employ Polish-Jews who have been forced to move to the Krakow Ghetto by the Germans. He gets in good with the local military officers and the SS, by schmoozing with them at parties and buying them booze and gifts. That is the set-up to this masterpiece by Steven Spielberg. At the outset, Schindler is not interested in saving anybody. He seems to be either unbelievably unaware or he is just indifferent to what is taking place. Money and notoriety is what he is after, and he uses his SS contacts to get what he wants.

Stripped of all that was theirs, that they earned, all Jews are forced to live in a small area of the Krakow ghetto, wear a Star of David on their arm, and fend for themselves, using the black market, as a means to barter and get needed supplies. This is sadly, the first stage of a horrific process ,that is being carried out by the Nazis. Schindler sees this as an opportunity to use this situation, as a way to get money from businessmen in the ghetto, who have lost all rights to use their money, to front his company. He employs Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) who is a member of the Jewish Counsel, and  becomes the person who truly runs Schindler’s business. They can’t share in his profits, but he will protect them, (he promises) and anyone who works at the factory. Schindler is not a bad man. He does not hate Jewish people; he is just selfish and sees an opportunity.

Up to this point in the film, the horror of the Holocaust is implied; with a killing here and there. The full scope is not shown yet. Then the liquidation of the ghetto begins, and the true picture of what is happening begins to become clear..We see children shaking in fear, with their parents waiting for who knows what, people swallowing their jewelry, with hope of it exiting later, old people being randomly shot because they move too slow, and families separating not knowing if they will ever see each other again. It is horrific, as it should be... as it was. It is an abomination of acts against humanity. The soldiers start to round people up in the streets, getting them ready to move to a camp in Paszów. Schindler is with one of his many lady friends riding horses, when they stop on a hill overlooking the ghetto. With this in view, Schindler begins to understand what is now going on, and it is a pivotal moment where he begins to transform inside. Spielberg’s use of a glint of color, to single out a child roaming through the streets of chaos and violence, is very effective, making you focus on this beautiful innocent girl in the mayhem and insanity of this moment. Schindler spots her, and you are his eyes as he follows her. When he sees her later in the film, it is shattering.

The people who do survive the liquidation, are then moved to a camp outside of Krakow, in Paszów. It is run by the SS officer: Amon Göth (Ralph Fiennes), whom Schindler has befriended, with the hope of protecting his workers at the camp. Goth is an absolute horror of a human being, who thinks nothing of killing anyone at anytime. He stands on the balcony of his house on the hill, overlooking the camp, and shoots people for sport. He is a vile, disgusting demon, of a man who could explode at any time. Schindler kind of knows what he is dealing with in Göth, but he needs him to continue his factory. He might not know at first how much a monster he is, but he gradually begins to understand to what level of evil this man is. I am not sure how one goes about playing such an aberration that Amon Göth is, but Fiennes is absolutely chilling in his portrayal of a man who truly did exist, and who was void of any ability of human compassion, and only knew how to destroy. Again, that Fiennes did not win an Academy Award for this role is baffling. Spielberg knew what he was doing here, and he films Fiennes on some close-ups where I swear his eyes almost glow; he is brilliant. Liam Neesen is excellent as a man who at first, thinks with his dick, his stomach, and his ego, to a man who risks everything financially, and his own life, to save as many people as he can. He, in the end, does the right thing for humanity, when there was so very little of it around in the madness and insanity of the Holocaust. Ben Kingsley, is as always, excellent and very touching as Stern, a man who is resigned to what the cruel hand of fate has in store for him, doing his job the best he can until the inevitable.There are so many scenes, that are so hard to watch to be sure, but you cannot tell this story properly without it. I have spoken to some people over the years who say that they could not bear to watch such a depressing film. There are countless people who have lived through this and have testified to it for history; you can surely deal with a little discomfort to think for a bit don't you think? 

Spielberg, for a long time, did not make this film. It was personal for him, and I would guess that he needed to figure out how exactly he could tell this story, that is so important for people to be told about, if they somehow are too young, and don’t know, and for the rest to not forget. His own personal stamp, on this shameful piece of history of racism and hatred, that must be learned from, was something he had to do. It is a powerful and draining film, that you should see for it’s historic importance.

Want to know how movies change things and can be important in affecting the world?

Steven Spielberg, not long after Schindler’s List established: The USC Shoah Foundation: The Institute for Visual History and Education, which collects video testimonials from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust, or (Shoah in Hebrew). It’s goal is, to document and record, for future generations to use as a learning tool, to fight intolerance, and educate on instances of genocide. Since the foundation's inception, they have started to record other examples of genocide worldwide.

That’s important.

To visit the site, go to:

Watch the trailer: