Okay Juicers, so I am doing this 30 day Film Challenge that should really give my thoughts and emotions an interesting time during the next month of quarantine. Day 14 is a tough question because it asks me to watch a movie that gave me depression. There are a couple but I have never felt sadder than watching this particular movie. It also happens to be Holocaust Remembrance day Yom Hashoah and what better way to remember the victims than to watch Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, Schindler’s List.
How do you begin to talk about one of the greatest treasures in cinematic history? A work of art that follows one of the largest tragedies in human history. As a proud Jewish man the Holocaust is something I grew up studying and learning about my entire life. I devoured books, movies, and of course as many live testimonials I could hear. I even visited the concentration camps in Poland and tried to put myself in the shoes of someone who was there (which of course is and should be impossible). I also happened to visit the factory of Oskar Schindler. I have also been to Oskar Schindler’s grave in Israel so I feel particularly close to this story. Schindler’s List is by far the best work and most powerful piece of film you can have on an event like this.
*Obviously a true story here
Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune from World War II, which has just started. After joining the Nazi party primarily for political expediency, he staffs his factory with Jewish workers for similarly pragmatic reasons. When the SS begins exterminating Jews in the Krakow ghetto, Schindler arranges to have his workers protected to keep his factory in operation, but soon realizes that in so doing, he is also saving innocent lives.
Steven Spielberg is one of, if not the greatest Director in the history of cinema. We’re talking: Jaws, Indiana Jones, E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and on and on and on. He even did Jurassic freaking Park in the same year as Schindler’s List which is just mind boggling. He also has stated numerous times how he waited a long time to even tell this story because of how heavy it was, and he felt he wasn’t ready. But at the end of the day he was born to tell this story.
This story is about a man who risked everything to save over 1100 Jews during this Holocaust. He was a member of the NAZI party and had no reason to help these people. He did it because it was the right thing to do. Now saving those people have spawned over 6,000 descendants and counting (and that was when this movie came out). What makes this movie great though is how Spielberg was able to tell this incredible story while also able to give you an overview of the Holocaust as a whole. You see the concentration camps, you see the ghettos, and see the horrors that the Jews had to go through every single day.
Spielberg used Black and White on this film to make it feel like it was of the time, however he gives us the famous glimpse of color in the little girls red jacket. It gives you perspective on what following one person around is like when have hundreds of other individuals running as well. It is an extremely powerful image.
Do not get me wrong this is obviously not an easy movie to watch, but that does not mean it is not a masterpiece on every level. Spielberg had his whole gang on this one, from Janusz Kaminski’s incredible cinematography, Steven Zaillians masterful screenplay, and of course the GOAT John Williams score (They all won Oscars for their respective parts in this movie, including Spielberg). Every piece of this movie is just picture perfect, and not to mention the acting as well.
Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler is just perfect in every way embodying the Direktor. He is confident at all times but you can sense his anxiousness and urgency as well and it is a masterful performance. Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goth, the Nazi who Schindler is up against is a sick person, but Fiennes is great as well and plays him with such little emotion its perfect. The real standout though is Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s right hand man Itzhak Stern. He has so many different emotions he has to play at all times and he is unrecognizable in the role. When he is on the train about to be shipped off the anxiety level is through the roof because you care so much for the guy.
*A couple other tidbits
- That final scene with the real survivors at his grave is moving beyond words.
- Apparently Aaron Sorkin did an uncredited touch up on the Script which is amazing obviously.
- This movie had 20,000 extras for all the insane mob sequences that show how sprawling this really was.
Simply put this is one of the greatest movies ever put on screen. It was made by the perfect filmmaker with the perfect team around him and it covers one of the most important topics in human history. I cannot imagine how hard it was to make this movie but I know they did everyone who was involved proud.
*You can find my Steven Spielberg Rankings here.
*You can find all of my Movie Ratings here.
*You can follow my Letterboxd account here.