The Greatest films of all time: 79. Schindler’s List (1993) (USA)

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Introduction:

From the science fiction and fantasy filmmaker of “Jaws”, “Close encounter of the third kind”, “E.T.”, and the “Indiana Jones” series, comes the serious drama film of “Schindler’s List” about the Jewish holocaust survivors of the World War II. Steven Spielberg who was busy making his first edition of “Jurassic Park” in the same year of 1993, was finally convinced by one of the real Polish Jews on the Schindler’s list, Poldek Pfefferberg who survived the extermination in Auschwitz by Nazis to make the film, the same way he convinced the Australian novelist, Thomas Keneally to write the novel “Schindler’s Ark” that the film was adapted from.

Spielberg who was not certain of his capability to make such a serious film and had suggested directors, Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese, Sydney Pollack and David Lean to make it, finally decided to make this different film for personal and family reasons and not profit. By chance and a right decision, Spielberg made his greatest film of his life, and in contrast with his other science fiction digital films in color, he shot this film in black and white and with the assistance of the cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, the film took well its real melodrama tragic context of an inhumanity stain on the humans’ past history lest not to forget. On many list of the greatest films of all time, “Schindler’s List” won 7 academy awards out of 12 nominations, including the best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, and best original score by John Williams. It ranks number 8 on the AFI of 100 best American films of all time’s second edition in 2007.

Although slow to pick up at the start, as Spielberg tried to give it a documentary format, the film’s two great sections and scenes of liquidation of the Jews in Krakow Ghetto and the final scene of the speech of Oskar Schindler, hours before the Germans’ surrender and the end of the war, and the wide respect and recognition of the survived Jews to him as their savior are the sensitive moments of the film to make it great. In the liquidation scene, Spielberg puts a little girl walking in a red coat while the rest of the film is still in B&W to symbolize how the American government was ignorant of the Holocaust and the Jewish genocide. “It was as obvious as a little girl wearing a red coat, walking down the street, and yet nothing was done to bomb the German rail lines. Nothing was being done to slow down … the annihilation of European Jewry”.

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One of the greatest impact of the film has been perhaps on the conscience of the Germans’ people that why not like Schindler they helped in the survival of many men, women and children who were massacred by the mass frenzy of Nazis in the name of survival of a better race against a lower one. The fact of the real existence of Schindler as a member of Nazi party to save 1200 Jews from death in Auschwitz has been hard to believe even for Spielberg after reading the story, and lies in the center of the story subject. While at the start, his agenda was a profit making enterprise of running his metal factory with free labor of the Jewish prisoners, over time he recognizes his role in their survival. Appreciation by his captive Jewish workers for saving their lives, particularly at the end when all gather to listen to his redemption speech breaks his heart so to regret in tears why he did not save more.

Schindler’s List: Schindler’s Ark

The list of 1200 Jewish men and women that Schindler made and saved as per title of the novel of Thomas Keneally has been compared by the survivors to Noah Ark. The real Oskar Schindler was a German industrialist who took over a metal factory for profit making with the use of free labors of the captive Jews in Krakow, but over time he gets attached to his workers and tries to rescue them from the atrocities of the Nazis and saves them from extermination. Schindler (Liam Neeson) with the aid of Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), a captive Jewish accountant meets with several wealthy Jews in the ghetto and asks for money for bribing the top German officers to let them work in his factory and also rescue their lives from extermination while his venture gets off the ground.     

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The Greatest films of all time: 79. Schindler’s List (1993) (USA)

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