Schindler's List Reviews
'Schindler's List' has gorgeous cinematography, amazing music, stunning sets, visionary direction and Neeson's showcase acting! It's one of the ten best movies ever! If you hate this movie then you have poor taste!
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The pictures that emerged, like so many visual representations of the Holocaust, are tragic, ghostly and remote. The horrors of the Holocaust are often viewed from a similar distance, filtered through memory or insulated by grief and recrimination. Documented exhaustively or dramatized in terms by now dangerously familiar, the Holocaust threatens to become unimaginable precisely because it has been imagined so fully. But the film "Schindler's List," directed with fury and immediacy by a profoundly surprising Steven Spielberg, presents the subject as if discovering it anew.
"Schindler's List" brings a pre-eminent pop mastermind together with a story that demands the deepest reserves of courage and passion. Rising brilliantly to the challenge of this material and displaying an electrifying creative intelligence, Mr. Spielberg has made sure that neither he nor the Holocaust will ever be thought of in the same way again. With every frame, he demonstrates the power of the film maker to distill complex events into fiercely indelible images. "Schindler's List" begins with the sight of Jewish prayer candles burning down to leave only wisps of smoke, and there can be no purer evocation of the Holocaust than that.
A deserted street littered with the suitcases of those who have just been rounded up and taken away. The look on the face of a captive Jewish jeweler as he is tossed a handful of human teeth to mine for fillings. A snowy sky that proves to be raining ashes. The panic of a prisoner unable to find his identity papers while he is screamed at by an armed soldier, a man with an obviously dangerous temper. These visceral scenes, and countless others like them, invite empathy as surely as Mr. Spielberg once made viewers wish E.T. would get well again.
But this time his emphasis is on the coolly Kafkaesque aspects of an authoritarian nightmare. Drawing upon the best of his storytelling talents, Mr. Spielberg has made "Schindler's List" an experience that is no less enveloping than his earlier works of pure entertainment. Dark, sobering and also invigoratingly dramatic, "Schindler's List" will make terrifying sense to anyone, anywhere.
The big man at the center of this film is Oskar Schindler, a Catholic businessman from the Sudetenland who came to occupied Poland to reap the spoils of war. (You can be sure this is not the last time the words "Oscar" and "Schindler" will be heard together.) Schindler is also something of a cipher, just as he was for Thomas Keneally, whose 1982 book, "Schindler's List," marked a daring synthesis of fiction and fact. Reconstructing the facts of Schindler's life to fit the format of a novel, Mr. Keneally could only draw upon the memories of those who owed their lives to the man's unexpected heroism. Compiling these accounts (in a book that included some of the Titsch photographs), Mr. Keneally told "the story of the pragmatic triumph of good over evil, a triumph in eminently measurable, statistical, unsubtle terms."
The great strength of Mr. Keneally's book, and now of Mr. Spielberg's film, lies precisely in this pragmatism. Knowing only the particulars of Schindler's behavior, the audience is drawn into wondering about his higher motives, about the experiences that transformed a casual profiteer into a selfless hero.
Schindler's story becomes much more involving than a tale of more conventional courage might be, just as Mr. Spielberg's use of unfamiliar actors to play Jewish prisoners makes it hard to view them as stock movie characters (even when the real events that befall these people threaten to do just that). The prisoners' stories come straight from Mr. Keneally's factual account, which is beautifully recapitulated by Steven Zaillian's screenplay.
Oskar Schindler, played with mesmerizing authority by Liam Neeson, is unmistakably larger than life, with the panache of an old-time movie star. (The real Schindler was said to resemble George Sanders and Curt Jurgens.) From its first glimpse of Oskar as he dresses for a typically flamboyant evening socializing with German officers -- and even from the way his hand appears, nonchalantly holding a cigarette and a bribe -- the film studies him with rapt attention.
Mr. Neeson, captured so glamorously by Janusz Kaminiski's richly versatile black-and-white cinematography, presents Oskar as an amalgam of canny opportunism and supreme, well-warranted confidence. Mr. Spielberg does not have to underscore the contrast between Oskar's life of privilege and the hardships of his Jewish employees.
Taking over a kitchenware factory in Cracow and benefiting from Jewish slave labor, Oskar at first is no hero. During a deft, seamless section of the film that depicts the setting up of this business operation, Oskar is seen happily occupying an apartment from which a wealthy Jewish couple has just been evicted. Meanwhile, the film's Jews are relegated to the Cracow ghetto. After the ghetto is evacuated and shut down, they are sent to Plaszow, which is overseen by a coolly brutal SS commandant named Amon Goeth.
Goeth, played fascinatingly by the English stage actor Ralph Fiennes, is the film's most sobering creation. The third of its spectacularly fine performances comes from Ben Kingsley as the reserved, wary Jewish accountant who becomes Oskar's trusted business manager, and who at one point has been rounded up by Nazi officers before Oskar saves him. "What if I got here five minutes later?" Oskar asks angrily, with the self-interest that keeps this story so startling. "Then where would I be?"
As the glossy, voluptuous look of Oskar's sequences gives way to a stark documentary-style account of the Jews' experience, "Schindler's List" witnesses a pivotal transformation. Oskar and a girlfriend, on horseback, watch from a hilltop as the ghetto is evacuated, and the image of a little girl in red seems to crystallize Oskar's horror.
But there is a more telling sequence later on, when Oskar is briefly arrested for having kissed a young Jewish woman during a party at his factory. Kissing women is, for Oskar, the most natural act in the world. And he is stunned to find it forbidden on racial grounds. All at once, he understands how murderous and irrational the world has become, and why no prisoners can be safe without the intervention of an Oskar Schindler.
The real Schindler saved more than a thousand Jewish workers by sheltering them in his factory, and even accomplished the unimaginable feat of rescuing some of them from Auschwitz. This film's moving coda, a full-color sequence, offers an unforgettable testimonial to Schindler's achievement.
The tension in "Schindler's List" comes, of course, from the omnipresent threat of violence. But here again, Mr. Spielberg departs from the familiar. The film's violent acts are relatively few, considering its subject matter, and are staged without the blatant sadism that might be expected. Goeth's hobby of playing sniper, casually targeting his prisoners with a high-powered rifle, is presented so matter-of-factly that it becomes much more terrible than it would be if given more lingering attention.
Mr. Spielberg knows well how to make such events truly shocking, and how to catch his audience off guard. Most of these shootings are seen from a great distance, and occur unexpectedly. When it appears that the film is leading up to the point-blank execution of a rabbi, the director has something else in store.
Goeth's lordly balcony, which overlooks the film's vast labor-camp set, presents an extraordinary set of visual possibilities, and Mr. Spielberg marshals them most compellingly. But the presence of huge crowds and an immense setting also plays to this director's weakness for staging effects en masse. "Schindler's List" falters only when the crowd of prisoners is reduced to a uniform entity, so that events no longer have the tumultuous variety of real life.
This effect is most noticeable in Schindler's last scene, the film's only major misstep, as a throng listens silently to Oskar's overwrought farewell. In a film that moves swiftly and urgently through its three-hour running time, this stagey ending -- plus a few touches of fundamentally false uplift, most notably in a sequence at Auschwitz -- amounts to a very small failing.
Among the many outstanding elements that contribute to "Schindler's List," Michael Kahn's nimble editing deserves special mention. So does the production design by Allan Starski, which finds just the right balance between realism and drama. John Williams's music has a somber, understated loveliness. The soundtrack becomes piercingly beautiful as Itzhak Perlman's violin solos occasionally augment the score.
It should be noted, if only in passing, that Mr. Spielberg has this year delivered the most astounding one-two punch in the history of American cinema. "Jurassic Park," now closing in on billion-dollar grosses, is the biggest movie moneymaker of all time. "Schindler's List," destined to have a permanent place in memory, will earn something better.
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Liam Neeson delivers an absolutely outstanding performance as Oskar Schindler. Neeson is obviously a well known actor but he doesnt really earn much credit for the films he has been in like Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Batman Begins, Kingdom Of Heaven and Kinsey. Oskar Schindler is the character of Neesons character and is without a doubt Neesons best performance. He is the perfect Schindler because he makes Schindler not only a real life person but also a character of his own in my opinion. He deserved his Oscar nomination but wasnt good enough in my opinion to win the Academy Award. Oskar Schindler was obviously a hero but Liam Neeson made him a real hero of his own as his own character. Ben Kingsley delivers an awesome performance as Schindlers Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern. Stern worked alongside Schindler as the accountant for his Enamelware company in Kraków and greatly helped in running the company. He is credited with typing the list of names known as Schindlers List; a list of Jews who survived the Holocaust because of Oskar Schindler's intervention. Ben Kingsley was a major and extremely supportive actor in this film. He alongside Liam Neeson in the scenes made this film more powerful that it already is. He should have had an Oscar nomination alongside Ralph Fiennes in this film. Ralph Fiennes delivers an even more powerful performance as commandant of the Nazi Concentration Camp Amon Goth. Ralph Fiennes also made Goth a character of his own too because of how cleverly Fiennes interpreted the cold hearted man that was Amon Goth. Ralph Fiennes has always been brilliant at portraying a villain but Amon Goth is the colder villain than Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. He is truly a character that I want to really hurt so badly because he is so cold and horrible. Ralph Fiennes deserved his Oscar nomination in this film.
The directing from Steven Spielberg was absolutely phenomenonal. The beauty as well as the horror that Spielberg brings into this film is just great. Spielberg proves something in this film especially when it involves the little girl in the red coat because anyone can see a Jew suffer, anyone can help a Jew and also anyone can hurt a Jew that size. Despite, the fact that the little girl doesnt speak in the film, she is quite a difference making character because she is the only character that shows colour because she is like the only beauty within the film even though there are dark hours and dark events that occur in this film which is why I have to call Schindler's List the best from legend Steven Spielberg. I think the one thing that I simply love about Steven Spielberg is that all of his films affect people in different ways. Most of the films he has done have been very heartfelt emotional ones particularly this, E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial, The Color Purple, A.I: Artificial Intelligence, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, The Terminal and Catch Me If You Can. But Spielberg can affect people because of the complete enjoyment of his films. For example, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Jaws, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and War Of The Worlds are complete action packed thrill rides. People will love those because of its action, suspense and general beauty of them. The script writing was phenomenal. It was very clever and it was very persuasive in a slight way because of the beauty and the horror that was the Holocaust. This film is obviously a war film but it isnt a war action packed soldier film but despite that, this film needs to be called a war film because it is obviously set during World War II (1939-1945) and also because it is like a war that the Nazis are causing in the Holocaust between them and the Jews. This is one of the best biography films ever made. The one film that is similar to Schindlers List is The Pianist because it is the cloest film to Schindlers List that tells a true story about the Holocaust.
This is my favourite film from the extremely talented Steven Spielberg. It is Liam Neesons best film and is certainly Ralph Fiennes best performance too. The ending was beautiful which makes it one of the most powerful endings of all time. It is such an inspirational ending too that will warm your heart. This will always be Steven Spielbergs eternal masterpiece that will be remembered forever!!!
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Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List is a challenging film to review. The incentive behind this is not because it's a bad movie...but that it's such a powerful experience to exhibit and it's virtually unfeasible to illustrate its power by employing words. In a sense, Spielberg's Schindler's List is something much more than a movie: this is a phenomenon!
When it was announced that director Spielberg was taking the reigns, this declaration encountered nothing but abject incredulity. Beforehand the director had only helmed mainstream blockbusters and films exhibiting bright exuberance like Jaws, Always, The Sugarland Express, Raiders of the Lost Ark and several others. Questions and uncertainties began to surface concerning the director's aptitude and capability to tackle a project of such enormity. There comes an occasion in the career of a director when they step away from the genre in which they take an interest, instead attempting something new. Certain directors have failed, some have prevailed. When Schindler's List was set for release, audiences sharpened their knives due to their qualms regarding the director. But make the film Spielberg did, and the world came to watch.
Spielberg achieved his goal beyond all initial comprehension...this was a step upwards for the director and a significant milestone in contemporary cinema. For the film's three hours duration audiences sat under an overwhelming collective spell - horrified, beleaguered, fascinated, inspired. As movie-goers stumbled, erratically blinking, from the theatres of the world, moist-eyed and moved, it became clear that a new era of filmmaking had commenced. Spielberg traded in his stereotyped career in the year 1993 with an astonishing double-whammy - he envisioned an unparalleled Holocaust template with Schindler's List, as well as resurrecting the dinosaurs with his astounding vision in Jurassic Park. By 1994 Spielberg was presiding over the most lucrative motion pictures of all time, and finally he received his cherished Oscar.
The subject matter is correctly a delicate topic. After all, it was only a number of decades ago that Adolf Hitler instigated a policy that necessitated the annihilation of Jews. Personally, I have studied the Holocaust in detail and am knowledgeable in the intricate, heart-wrenching niceties regarding the events leading up to mass murder. On a daily basis throughout the Holocaust, thousands of Jews were executed in sadistic ways - people were cooked alive, some shot, even some were exposed to poison gas. The disturbing factor is that the Nazis never felt an iota of sympathy due to the attitudes they were so severely lead to believe.
The focus of Schindler's List is not to portray the horrors that unfolded in extermination camps at all. Spielberg keeps the focus purely on the more minor events, and above all the viewpoint from a select few characters. The heavy nature in its depiction of executions challenges out notion of tolerance. We are challenged not only by the staggering acts of cruelty we see, but by the equally confounding acts of kindness. As we observe these ghastly proceedings unfold, we are strained to identify those virtues within ourselves that are equally light and dark. Schindler's List is not a film that we can impassively scrutinize. We are propelled into the dismay and the panic...the indignity, the brutality. As the title would suggest, this film is mainly the story of one man: Oskar Schindler (Neeson). Schindler is a Czech of German ethnicity who travels to Poland with the intention of becoming a war profiteer. He employs assistance from Jewish investors in order to buy his own pots-and-pans factory. At the outset, Schindler uses forced Jewish labour because it was inexpensive compared to hiring Polish workers. However, Schindler witnesses as World War II and the Holocaust develops with devastating results. These events are too overwhelming to fathom, and Schindler begins experiencing a slow, subtle moral awakening. His poignant story of bravery and generosity launches when Schindler cons the Nazis as he places more than a thousand Jews under his protection. By the conclusion of World War II, Schindler had exhausted his whole war-generated wealth to guarantee that his Jews would never again be touched by the Nazis.
On a more subtle, thematic level the screenwriter portrays a battle for Schindler's soul between camp commandant Amon Goeth (Fiennes) and Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern (Kingsley). Schindler's story is a staggering one. In a cacophony of death clouding his existence, one man managed to save roughly 1,100 Jewish lives using charisma, bluster, and trickery. The Holocaust has been previously described as a mechanical insanity because of the enormity of people who followed the philosophies: they are like cogs in a machine. It took a single person...a single machine cog with alternative ideas and an ethically problematic lifestyle (Schindler treasured alcohol and womanising) to mislead the Nazis (who regarded him as their frivolous comrade).
At the centre of the film we have a simply sublime group of actors. Liam Neeson nails the character of Oskar Schindler in a satisfyingly brilliant performance. Neeson perfectly displays Schindler's quiet method of expressing his morals. His outward show suggests he is a close buddy of the Nazis, but on the inside he's resentful and anguished towards the brutal, arbitrary termination of Jewish lives. Neeson was nominated for an Oscar. Ralph Fiennes was also nominated for an Oscar. His performance is utterly terrifying: he's intimidating and unnerving whenever he steps into the frame. His sheer established cruelty and viciousness will be enough to leave you in complete shock. This actor is focused as he portrays a character that appears to be soft-spoken when in fact his intentions are cruel and inhuman.
The meticulous screenplay was penned by Steven Zallian, and was based on the source material by Australian writer Thomas Keneally. Interestingly, Keneally was an accomplished author when he strolled into a luggage shop and immediately struck up a conversation with the shop owner. Said shop owner was one Leopald Page, formerly Poldek Pfefferberg: a Schindlerjuden. During their friendly conversation, Pfefferberg conveyed to Keneally the story of Oskar Schindler: the German industrialist who had saved him and 1,100 others from certain death in occupied Poland during the 1940s. Schindler was a Nazi who had not stood back. Keneally was so inspired and moved that he transformed this story into the Booker Prize winning novel Schindler's Ark. The rights were soon purchased by Universal boss Sid Sheinberg, and the transformation from book to movie was soon initiated. When Spielberg was involved in the project he originally offered the film to director Roman Polanski, but his own experiences in Polish ghettos were too tender for him to accept the director's chair. Thus Spielberg, who was at the time ensconced in post-production work for Jurassic Park, decided to tackle the directing duties himself. The director flew to Poland and began his masterwork for which he accepted no salary, saying that it would be akin to taking "blood money."
Spielberg worked intimately with cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, and the project was lensed using stylish grainy black and white photography techniques. The film was undertaken without any storyboarding: Spielberg planned each shot instinctively as the cameras were about to roll, where all of his God-given skills as an accomplished director were distilled into something intuitional and turbulently expressive. The cinematography techniques created a realistic atmosphere of almost documentary footage: he utilised jarring hand-held filmmaking to portray the intense confusion for the Jews during times of complete chaos. Spielberg evokes these creative techniques to create the illusion of complete immersion: for the 190 minutes that make up this film's duration, you will feel transported to an entirely different world...you will feel engrossed in the occurrences. The music by none other than John Williams (Spielberg's trademark composer), is a poignant composition that adds to the atmosphere. But it's not the music that ultimately helps the audience get involved: it's the visuals. One scene was played to very little music; however it always makes me cry. The scene in question is when we watch as corpses are transported past Oskar Schindler to be dumped into the ground without an iota of sentimentality towards any of the victims. No matter how manly you consider yourself, your eyes will be moist.
Spielberg does not want his audience to endure a fun romp that you'll want to immediately watch again...he instead tells his story straight and with the utmost sincerity. World War II films cannot come more personal than the masterpiece that is Schindler's List. The reviews were exultant and the Oscar committee rewarded the film with twelve nominations. Although Spielberg did receive some criticism in relation to several aspects of the film, such judgements are hard to swallow after watching this film. While some slam the director for not including the prejudice towards the handicapped and the homosexuals that were also prosecuted, or that the focus was shifted away from the concentration camps...quite simply it does not matter at all. This is the story that Poldek Pfefferberg wanted told: a story that intimately examines one man and his struggle to come to terms with his morals during an internationally horrific event. This was never meant to be the definitive Holocaust film and hence doesn't need to concentrate on all aspects...this is a personal movie based on a personal experience.
After trying with such dedication since the commencement of his career, Steven Spielberg has finally achieved a mature production with Schindler's List. An extraordinary work by any standard: this intense historical and biographical drama, about an amazing Nazi industrialist, evinces an artistic intransigence and unsentimental intellect disparate from anything the world's most successful filmmaker had previously demonstrated. Infused with a brilliant screenplay, outstandingly sinuous cinematic techniques, three astonishing lead performances and an approach toward the traumatic subject matter that is both passionately felt and impressively restrained, this is the film to win over the Spielberg skeptics.
Even now, all these years after its cinematic release, Schindler's List remains an expressive, heartbreaking and remarkable slice of filmmaking that transcends all obstacles of theatrical disbelief. The film successfully draws us personally into the dark hearts of a dark age, and then liberates us with the few beams of light produced by the actions of the righteous few. The harrowing detail and poignancy of this production will enthral audiences for generations of movie-goers to follow. After you finish watching this movie you will have the words of Schindlerjuden profoundly present in your heart - "That it may never happen again." Winner of 7 Oscars including Best Picture 1993, Best Director (for Steven Spielberg), Best Cinematography (for Janusz Kaminski), Best Music (for John Williams), Best Film Editing (for Michael Kahn), Best Writing based on other material (for Steven Zallian) and Best Art Direction/Set Direction (for Allan Starski and Ewa Braun).
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The whole film is like a stab in the gut; scene after scene of terrifying acts of genocide, racial hatred and sadism that defined The Holocaust.
Filmed with art and dignity; it is by no means a gory 'snuff' film like 'The Passion'. Filmed in black and white throughout and thrown into colour at the end; when hundreds of present day Jews (many of them Schindler's workers) come to pay their respects to him.
Liam Neeson acts superbly throughout; after all his work Schindler feels nothing but guilt at how many more he should have saved. This scene in particular had me reaching for the cleenex.
There is no obvious happy ending as is typical with Spielberg. Despite Schindler's work, we are still left with the overwhelming loss of people and the devastating effect the nazi regime had on those who did survive.
This film raises the deepest levels of disgust in me for the acts of the nazis; while simultaneously evoking a pride and respect for those suffered through the regime. It is the real and disturbing subject matter, dealt with so well, that puts this film head and shoulders above any act of fiction.
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