1993 • Schindler’s List

Schindler's List, 1993Wednesday night, Lauren and I watched yet another title from our Best Picture project, 1993’s Schindler’s List, and unlike Jerry and his girlfriend, we were definitely not caught making out during the movie. “A more despicable display I cannot recall!” cried Newman to Marty and Helen after observing Jerry at the theater.

Schindler’s List is another movie that I, and probably 90% of the population, has seen before. Despite the graphic nature and nudity, we watched this in high school during Mr. Stobbs’ history class. I remembered very little about the story or the movie since I first (and last) saw it in 2000. The things that I recalled very vividly included the doctors euthanizing their patients so they wouldn’t have to endure being shot with machine guns; the man randomly shooting Jews from his bedroom balcony; and the girl in the red dress. What I didn’t remember was the fact that Oskar Schindler was the good guy. And I wasn’t even sure if there was really an actual list or if that was just something symbolic. Turns out that was kinda the whole point of the movie.

Nazi Oskar Schindler moves to Krakow to earn a fortune producing war goods and finds it’s cheapest to hire Jewish Poles to work for him. At first Schindler is just in it for the vast profits, but when he sees the genocide going on around him he begins to hire more and more Jews to save their lives. By bribing officials, Schindler is able to acquire over 1,000 workers and save their lives. By the end, he is deemed a hero. Now stretch that basic idea out over three hours, plus lots and lots and lots of people being brutally killed and you’ve got Schindler’s List.

The cinematography was as good as it gets, as Marty and Helen pointed out to Jerry. “What did you think of the black and white?” “The black and white?” “Yes, the whole movie was filmed in black and white!” “Oh… I… didn’t even notice!” I suppose the black and white did add something to the film. Spielberg said he wanted it to be shot as if it were a documentary and felt the black and white was the way to best represent that, as well as using handheld cameras for 40% of the shooting.

As for the acting, Liam Neeson as Schindler was an excellent, likable character. Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) was also great in his supporting role. For me, the best acting was that of Embeth Davidtz in the role of Helen Hirsch, and of course the thousands of extras who had a pretty challenging job.

As has been the case many times in this project, we watched a movie that by all accounts was phenomenal, yet was far from a fun, entertaining movie that I’d race to watch again. I have lots of trouble deciding where in my rankings to put a movie like Schindler’s List, because although I admire the great job done by Steven Spielberg, it is such a haunting, grim movie on one of the worst things to ever happen in the history of the world. I ended up putting it at #13 of the 63 we’ve seen, which I think is a more-than-fair place for a movie that I don’t want to see again for another ten years.

1 Comment

  1. […] We’ve also managed to see the next couple Best Pictures in our project, 1993′s Schindler’s List and 1994′s Forrest Gump, the latter of which I have seen more times than any other movie […]

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