Schindler’s List (1993)

schindlers list poster 1993 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

A must see despite the horrors

Requires a strong stomach

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Schindler’s List

Studio:  Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment

Genre(s):  Drama/War

Release Date(s):  November 30, 1993 (Premiere)/December 15, 1993 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

schindlers list list is life itzhak stern ben kingsley

The List is Life

Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is an opportunist.  With the war raging, the demand for goods is high and he sees the cheap Jewish workforce and the high profit turning ability to sell back to the army as a win-win for him.  As Schindler finds himself teamed with a Jewish bookkeeper named Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) he begins to see the horrors around him.  He sees the Jewish people forcibly removed from them homes, tortured, and killed…Schindler’s view of the war is changing and he might have the power and money to do something about it.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List is a World War II Holocaust drama.  Following Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (also in 1993), the movie was an adaptation of Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark from 1982.  It was released to critical praise and was selected in 2004 for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.  The movie won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction with nominations for Best Actor (Neeson), Best Supporting Actor (Fiennes), Best Makeup, Best Sound, and Best Costume Design.

schindlers list hiding in toilet

When hiding in the toilet is your best option and you find you weren’t the first to come up with it

I remember all the hype surrounding Schindler’s List release and remember the drama of seeing it on the big screen.  I also remember going to see the author Thomas Keneally speak and tell how he only learned of the story from a chance encounter with a Schindler Holocaust survivor named Poldek Pfefferberg…and it is hard to think about how Schindler’s List almost didn’t exist.

The movie also was an oddity for Spielberg at the time.  He had dipped into social and “serious” drama before with The Color Purple, but largely, he had focused on blockbusters (it was always weird that the Jurassic Park movies bookended this movie).  Spielberg captures the drama and the horror in the story by following multiple characters and showing how someone could have been involved with the Nazi party and come to realize how evil and corrupt it was.  While the character list is big and expansive, it is sometimes hard to keep track of them…and the ending where the real life survivor appears with the actor playing them is a nice touch to help round it out.

schindlers list helen hirsch amon goth ralph fiennes embeth davidtz

Truly evil

Despite being about the Holocaust in general it is almost a character study of Oskar Schindler who starts out as someone only seeing profit and becomes a genuine savior…and watching the movie to see where his point of view changes is interesting.  He’s backed by Ralph Fiennes in one of the most evil characters to take the screen…shots of him getting up, stretching, and killing a few Jewish prisoners as his wake-up routine is chilling.  His character resembles a modern slave owner who even tries to seduce his maid (Embeth Davidtz) despite his disgust for the Jewish people.  The voice of the Jewish people in the movie is played by the always good Ben Kingsley who sees Schindler’s potential (and arguably uses him until Schindler realizes it himself).

schindlers list girl in pink

No one is safe

The movie is shot is stark black and white with limited color sequences.  The horror is more “real” in black and white because I don’t know that they could have ever matched the colors and the horrors of the visuals.  Spielberg also included a sequence with a little girl during the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto wearing a red coat…on the big screen this popped even more after an hour of black-and-white.  The color humanizes the story and helps present the fact that the piles of the dead are real people when you see her corpse later.  As ruthless as the movie is, it doesn’t match footage from documentary movies like Smoke and Fog that show film footage of the real concentration camps.

Schindler’s List is a movie that you need to see even if you don’t want to see it.  It is a movie that is not a fun watch, but it is so well done that you can’t help admire what you are seeing even if you are disgusted by it.  With a ton of characters and plot points, it does benefit from reviewing…though the horrors will probably be the things that stick in your head.  Steven Spielberg followed up Schindler’s List with The Lost World:  Jurassic Park in 1997.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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