SCHINDLER'S LIST, 1993
Cast: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagall, and Embeth Davidtz
Steven Spielberg directs this epic tale about Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a German businessman who saved thousands of Jews during World War II from the Nazi death camps.
Oscar Wins: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction- Set Decoration, Cinematography, Original Score, Film Editing, and Best Picture.
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At the beginning of World War II, shortly after Nazi Germany invaded Poland, Oskar Schindler, a Nazi supporter, came to Krakow in hopes to profit off the quick victories the Nazis have been piling up. He quickly started courting high-ranking Nazi officers in hopes to get his business off the ground.
It was around this time that the Nazis were rounding up the Jews of Poland and forcing them into the Ghettos, in Krakow this was 15,000 Jews crammed into a fifteen block area that was original inhabited by 3,000. Many were thinking this was the worse that was going to happen to them, little did they know this was only the beginning, for the Germans were building a concentration camp just outside of the city.
While in the ghetto, the Jewish businessmen, who recently lost their businesses developed the black market. They would meet in temple, alleys, and sewers to cut deals; it was this form of dealing that attracted Schindler to the ghetto, it was also during this time when Schindler met Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), formerly an accountant, he became the lynchpin to get Schindlerís business off the ground. Stern made deals with factory owners, material guys, etc. to get Schindler stuff that he wouldnít be able to otherwise.
Schindler also made deals with the Nazi officers where he was allowed to use the Jews as basically slave labor, since the Jews were not allowed to have money in the Nazi occupied area, so Schindler paid them with pots and pans, the same products that he had made in his factory. Schindler was able to employ around 1,000 Jewish workers. This worked out well for all involved, Schindler was able to keep more profit and the Jewish workers received a work pass out of the ghetto where during the day was unsafe for Jews, it also caused them to stay out of the Plaszow concentration camp, that was commanded by SS captain Amon Goth (Ralph Fiennes).
It was shortly after his arrival that Goth ordered a raid on the Ghetto, forcing all the Jews out. Those who cooperated were roughly treated, humiliated, or beaten, those who tried to hide were immediately shot with no questions asked. Schindler was a witness to this raid from a nearby hill. Itís not sure how many, if any, of Schindlerís workers were killed, we do see that they are all sent to Plaszow.
To save his workers from certain death, Schindler becomes friends with Goth, even though Goth does have him arrested on a few occasions, for the most part Schindler is able to become a bit of an advisor. This is an important moment, because up until this point we are led to believe that Goth is a mad man, killing an engineer for informing him that the ground he was trying to build on was unstable, shooting about ten men for losing a metal piece on some equipment, and probably the most grotesque scene in the film, upon waking up one morning, Goth went to the balcony of his house with a sniper rifle and started shooting the Jewish inmates as they passed.
After seeing the horrors that are taking place at Plaszow, Schindlerís attitude starts to change, from being a businessman to being a savior. Under his care the Jews are safe from Goth and the other SS, as well as the harsh elements. When he finds out that the Plaszow concentration camp detainees are being transferred to Auschwitz, due to the advancing Soviet forces, Schindler buys a bomb factory on the outskirts of the city near it, negotiates with Goth for the Jewish laborers. With his remaining money Schindler is able to buy 1,100 men, women and children, it was then Schindler and Stern composed the famous list.
The plan was for the Jewish men and boys were to be transferred to Auschwitz by train and make a quick stop off in Brunnlitz (the city were Schindlerís new factory was) to drop off the men that Schindler bought and do the same thing of the women and girls that were on a different train. This however isnít how it happened, the men and boys were dropped off but the train with the women skipped its stop and kept on to Auschwitz. It wasnít for hours until Schindler got the news and personal drove to Auschwitz to claim the women he had paid for. During the time the women had a horrifying experience as they were forced to strip and into a shower chamber, hearing that the Nazis have been gassing people in a similar way the women are fearing for their lives, and when water starts falling on them, tears of joy start rolling down their face. Shortly after Schindler arrived at the camp to claim his women and brings them to the factory.
The film is shot in black and white, which gives it a much more effectiveness because of the tone of the film. A large portion of the film was also shot with handheld cameras to give the film more of a first person point of view, another effective tool to pull the audience in more. There is however one colored image in the film, not counting the last five minutes at Schindlerís gave, it is during the raid on the ghetto, where a little girl in a red coat, no more than four or five, is running around, Schindler canít take his eyes off of her as the horror continues around her.
The filmís haunting score was composed by John Williams, which won him an Academy Award and also helps set the tone of the film. Overall the film racked up seven Oscars and five more nominations. In 1998 the American Film Institute named it the 9th Greatest Film of al time and ten years later named it 8th. On a personal level I feel it is the most important film ever for its message. I highly suggest this film it you have not seen it, I would suggest not watching it on a Monday because it will make you depressed the rest of the week.