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Films to See Before You Die: #26 Schindler’s List

schindler's list

Schindler’s List (1993)

Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Embeth Davidtz

Synopsis: Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a successful businessman, arrives from Czechoslovakia in hopes of using the abundant cheap labour force of Jews to manufacture goods for the German military. Schindler, an opportunistic member of the Nazi party, lavishes bribes upon the army and SS officials in charge of procurement. Sponsored by the military, Schindler acquires a factory for the production of army mess kits and cooking paraphernalia. Not knowing much about how to properly run such an enterprise, he gains a contact in Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), a functionary in the local Judenrat (Jewish Council) who has contacts with the now-underground Jewish business community in the ghetto. They loan him the money for the factory in return for a small share of products produced (for trade on the black market). Opening the factory, Schindler pleases the Nazis and enjoys his new-found wealth and status as “Herr Direktor,” while Stern handles all administration. Stern suggests Schindler hire Jews instead of Poles because they cost less (the Jews themselves get nothing; the wages are paid to the Reich). Amon Göth (Ralph Fiennes) arrives in Krakow to initiate construction of a labor camp nearby, Paszów. The SS soon liquidates the Krakow ghetto, sending in hundreds of troops to empty the cramped rooms and shoot anyone who protests, is uncooperative, elderly, or infirm, or for no reason at all. Schindler watches the massacre from the hills overlooking the area, and is profoundly affected. He nevertheless is careful to befriend Göth and, through Stern’s attention to bribery, he continues to enjoy the SS’s support and protection. Workers in Schindler’s factory are allowed outside the ghetto, and Stern falsifies documents to ensure that as many people as possible are deemed “essential” by the Nazi bureaucracy, which saves them from being transported to concentration camps, or even being killed. With his factory Oskar Schindler is able to save over 1100 Jews from death in the gas chambers.

Trivia: Director Steven Spielberg was able to get permission to film inside Auschwitz, but chose not to out of respect for the victims, so the scenes of the death camp were actually filmed outside the gates on a set constructed in a mirror image of the real location on the other side. There is a Jewish tradition that when one visits a grave, one leaves a small stone on the marker as a sign of respect. This is why the cast and the Schindlerjuden cover Oskar Schindler’s grave with stones at the end of the movie. Martin Scorsese turned down the chance to direct the film in the 1980s, as he felt he couldn’t do as good a job as a Jewish director. He agreed to swap films with Steven Spielberg, taking over Cape Fear instead.

Why I think you should see this: This is the other movie Spielberg made in 1993 after Jurassic Park set all kinds of box office records. This is not an easy film to watch because it is so sad and depressing made all the more by the fact it actually happened. Liam Neeson is spectacular as Oskar Schindler and Ralph Fiennes is diabolical as Amon Goeth it is a crime that neither won an Oscar for their portrayals. I am not gonna lie I cry every time I watch this movie it is just emotional and shows just how good or evil people can really be. One of the most important films ever made check this out as soon as possible but be ready to cry.

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About Trevor

Hi my name is Trevor and this is my blog! Films are a passion of mine. I am a total film geek. I own over 700 films and the collection is ever growing. I studied Film Studies and Scriptwriting in College. What I have learned about films is mostly self taught.

9 responses to “Films to See Before You Die: #26 Schindler’s List

  1. noa834 ⋅

    Yes, it’ll make you cry. I loved the red coat.

  2. ~Lady Day ⋅

    Oh sakes…this film was horrible yet necessary…my family has german and german jewish history and I belong to a faith that was executed mercilessly by the nazis…my history sits in all sides. This film caused me to sob for the entire length…I only watched it once and never would again.

  3. Absolutely a must see! Watching to see what comes next.

  4. jmount43 ⋅

    I hate to throw the word masterpiece around all the time; but in this case it is the only way to describe this film. The cinematography alone makes it one of the greatest of all time.

  5. I teach the Holocaust every year and suggest this great movie to them to watch with their parents. Excellent film on a horrific topic. 🙂

  6. jimagain

    I confess I haven’t yet watched this movie and can’t give an adequate reason why.

  7. gayatrimohan ⋅

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

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