I notice Schindler’s List is a patchwork of stories retold through the eyes of Holocaust Survivors. This felt entirely appropriate and gives the film a unique perspective. Many outstanding WWII dramas have been made, but so few will equal this detailed, historically revealing one about those so directly affected.
Anecdotal encounters with German soldiers are re-enacted here: The young man who clears suitcases from a ghetto street, only surviving due to approaching Nazi Soldiers finding this amusing. A factory worker who survives only due to Commandant Goeth’s pistol failing. The young boy stepping forward and pointing to an inmate the Commandant has just shot, informing him this was the chicken thief.
Only a Jewish film director should have made this film, and I wonder if it was a painful experience for Spielberg at some points? He deals sensitively with a plethora of barbaric scenes including German soldiers stripping inmates, or pushing them in frustration onto the mangled bodies of less fortune kin.
Spielberg does not veil the horror here. We see how heads explode when a 9mm Luger is discharged at point blank range. Not a fan of violence, I found myself forgiving the director here, because the destruction by Nazi Soldiers against unarmed civilians is evidential. The Nazis also tried hard to cover-up the extent of their War Crimes.
The screenplay tends towards the sentimental, but right at it’s heart is a fascinating dichotomy of personality. The unprejudiced approach of Schindler in contrast to Commandant Amon Goethe’s hate-driven, psychopathic one. Unfortunately, psychopaths thrived in Nazi Germany and it’s evident Goeth (pronounced “Gort” in German) was responsible for thousands of deaths.
Personally, I believe Nazis hated the Jews because of the desperate poverty many Germans experienced after World War One. The building of the Extermination Camps (Auschwitz being one of them) was a twisted, yet banally logical step in the process of Nazis ensuring everything was taken from their chosen scapegoats… A defenseless, civilian population.
The Holocaust will remain one of humanity’s deepest tragedies. We need to understand why it happened and Schindler’s List helps us all do this. Those sacrificed for the sake of economic expediency was a hateful, unnecessary war crime.
I sobbed uncontrollably for the last 15 minutes of this film…
Favorite Film Moment:
Has to be when Schindler questions the use of a one-armed machinist. The superb Ben Kingsley as sober plant manager, Stern simply raises his hands saying: “Very useful… Success!” As Schindler drives away. Black comedy at its finest.
Embeth Davidtz as victimized housemaid “Helene Hirsch” (who had to deal daily with the violent and unpredictable Goeth) is outstanding in her scenes. I cannot believe she did not receive an Oscar in this role. She deserved one – Despite being part of an impressive, solid cast.
Most Haunting Scene:
The now famous Girl In Red Coat Scene is one of the best pieces of film direction I have ever seen. That little girl wandering amid the bullets, confusion and murder is cinematic symbolism at its finest. The soundtrack changes to children singing during this part of the film. Spielberg shows us the affects of evil on the innocent with remarkable skill here. No corny dialogue, no over-acting. Just undiluted representation of the consequences of hatred.