Schindler's List (1993)
I am half tempted just to tell you to watch "Schindler's List" rather than even attempt to review it because whilst I can put into words what I watched getting across how that affected me is not so easy. The thing is that I have watched "Schindler's List" a few times, I would have watched it more but it is not an easy movie to watch, yet every time I watch it still blows me away, still makes me feel sick to the pit of my stomach whilst blubbing come its climax. It is that sort of movie; powerful, emotional, brilliant, horrifying yet also emotional telling not just the powerful story of Oskar Schindler but also getting across the horrors which the Jewish population suffered during WWII.
With Polish Jews being moved to the Krakow Ghetto, German businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) spies an opportunity to profiteer from the war. Having used what money he had to cosy up to several senior and influential German Officers he then persuades Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) to persuade the Jewish Council to financially back him in setting up a factory where Schindler would take the money whilst they would get product to trade on the black market. It also allowed Stern to bring in people to the factory who otherwise would be indiscriminately shot by the Germans.
Following the arrival of SS-Lieutenant Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) to oversee the construction of Plaszow concentration camp things start to change as the liquidisation of the ghetto takes place, a massacre which Schindler witnesses and affects him. Whilst still cosying up to the German officials and Goeth, Schindler starts to take a deeper interest in the Jews who work for him something which comes to the attention of Goeth when Schindler kisses a Jewish girl at his birthday party.
Having become wealthy from the Jewish workforce Schindler is preparing to leave as Goeth is due to ship all his Jewish prisoners to Auschwitz. But something deep inside stops Oskar and offers Goeth a huge bribe to sign over more than a thousand Jews to work in his new factory in his home town away from the main trouble. Not only that as whilst the factory is supposed to be making ammunition for the German's Schindler refuses to have his Jewish workforce doing so and whilst making faulty ammunition spends his fortune on buying ammunition from elsewhere to ship as his own.
I don't usually go into so much depth when writing a synopsis but you can't just give a brief synopsis of "Schindler's List" there is too much going on and there is so much I purposefully didn't mention in that synopsis. Now what that does mean is that we have the remarkable story of Oskar Schindler who made a fortune from the Jewish slave labour and then via a deep realisation spent that fortune protecting over a thousand Jews. It is an inspiring story but also a fascinating one which immediately grabs are attention as we watch Schindler grease various palms to cosy up with high ranking German Officers which not only made it easier when it came to business but also when it came to getting in trouble. But it is how this ends which is so amazing as Schindler with the help of Stern came up with a list of over a thousand Jews that he was going to try and save by giving them refuge in his factory.
Now Oskar Schindler's story is powerful and inspiring and a huge part of what "Schindler's List" is about but this is a movie also about what the Jewish population went through during WWII. Now I have watched other movies which have attempted to show what went on and none of them get close to the sickening ordeal showing in "Schindler's List". I mentioned earlier that watching this movie makes me feel sick to the pit of my stomach and it does when you watch an innocent Jewish woman get her brains blown out for no reason or a whole group of Jewish prisoners treated in a sub human way. It makes it such a hard hitting movie and one which at the same time makes you feel connected to so many of the characters we see who often come close to being indiscriminately killed.
That still barely covers what you watch in "Schindler's List" because it is a movie full of detail, little things from ingenious trap doors that families hid under to the disgusting way that the belongings of Jews taken prisoner was sorted. A scene where we see a pile of photos of loved ones just piling up on a table really hits home that this isn't fiction, this is what happened. That element really brings home when it comes to the climax of the movie in one of the few colour scenes, a scene which trust me will have you blubbing as you feel the connection to those people we have watched, even those which seem to have such little significance in the movie.
Now when it comes to the acting I could and will say that Liam Neeson is brilliant through out as Oskar Schindler and so is Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern and then so is Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth. And that is the thing about "Schindler's List" there is not a bad performance in the movie from the main actors to those playing lesser parts and even on to the thousands of extras. It feels like everyone knew they were making a powerful movie and didn't cut corners when it came to performance.
It is the same with Steven Spielberg's direction as it is faultless from the close ups of the actors to the horror of the Ghetto liquidation to the powerful shower block scene at Auschwitz. Every single second of the movie says something and really hits home what the Jewish community went through during the war. I am sure as director Spielberg's focus on doing justice to the story but I have to say with such a big production this is a movie which feels epic where Spielberg really shows his skills as a movie maker.
What this all boils down to is that "Schindler's List" is an amazing movie, a powerful, inspiring yet also rightly sickening movie which is so hard hitting that whilst it is brilliant it is not a movie you can easily watch again and again. It may be over 3 hours long but it is time worth giving up to watch something which will affect you deeply and will never forget.
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