‘Schindler’s List’

Based on the book Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, itself based on true events, Schindler’s List is simultaneously a expose of, in extremis, man’s unexplainable inhumanity whilst presenting a homage to one man’s humanity in the face of complete adversity.

Oskar Schindler saved some 1100 Jews from certain death following the invasion of Poland by the Nazis. A German entrepreneur and Nazi party-member, Schindler (Liam Neeson – Kinsey, The Grey) initially recognised business opportunities in Krakow – a factory contributing to the war effort and, by employing Jews, cheap labour. Through goods from the black market, he bought his way into privilege and, eventually, through witnessing the horrors of Nazi policies, saved lives of those determined as essential workers.

Steven Spielberg’s grand gesture of a feature clocks in at a ‘short’ 195 minutes. It’s an extraordinary epic telling, shot in atmospheric black and white (Janusz Kaminski – War Horse, Saving Private Ryan). Throughout, the film looks to its telling in the detail as thousands of people are first herded into the cramped Ghetto and then herded out to the camps. Schindler desperately increases his purchases to save his workers, aided by his factory manager, Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley – Gandhi, Sexy Beast) as the sadistic SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Göth (Ralph Fiennes – An English Patient, The Dig) arrives to enact the Final Solution.

Schindler’s List is a major achievement. It’s a vividly told, experiential emotional experience, a film of moral importance yet readily accessible. In telling Schindler’s story and its tragic drama, it’s a homage not just to the man, but a focus on the risks and the fragility of survival.

Nominated for 12 Oscars in 1994 including best actor, supporting actor (Fiennes), won 7 including best film, director, adapted screenplay and cinematography.

Rating: 92%


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