Movie Review: Schindler's List (1993)

in #movie7 months ago (edited)


Schindler's List is a 1993 American historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the 1982 novel Schindler's Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. Starred by Liam Neeson, who played the role of Oskar Schindler (the protagonist of the story), Ralph Fiennes as Amon Goeth (the antagonist who acts like a friend with the protagonist), and Ben Kingsley as Schindler's Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern. Often listed among the greatest films ever made, the film received international acclaim from critics for its tone, earning $322 million worldwide on a $22 million budget, it was a box office success for Spielberg and the team behind the production. Nominated for 12 Academy Awards, winning 7, which includes Best Picture, Best Director (as expected), Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score, and other numerous awards including 3 Golden Globes and 7 BAFTAs.


In Kraków during World War II, the Germans have forced local Polish Jews into the overcrowded Kraków Ghetto. Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German from Czechoslovakia, arrives in the city hoping to make his fortune. A member of the Nazi Party, Schindler lavishes bribes on Wehrmacht (German armed forces) and SS officials and acquires a factory to produce enamelware. To help him run the business, Schindler enlists the aid of Itzhak Stern, a local Jewish official who has contacts with black marketeers and the Jewish business community. Stern helps Schindler arrange financing for the factory. Schindler maintains friendly relations with the Nazis and enjoys wealth and status as "Herr Direktor", and Stern handles administration. Schindler hires Jewish workers because they cost less, while Stern ensures that as many people as possible are deemed essential to the German war effort, which saves them from being transported to concentration camps or killed.

SS-Untersturmführer (second lieutenant) Amon Göth arrives in Kraków to oversee construction of Płaszów concentration camp. When the camp is completed, he orders the ghetto liquidated. Many people are shot and killed in the process of emptying the ghetto. Schindler witnesses the massacre and is profoundly affected. He particularly notices a young girl in a red coat as she hides from the Nazis, and later sees her body among a wagon-load of corpses. Schindler is careful to maintain his friendship with Göth and, through bribery and lavish gifts, continues to enjoy SS support. Göth brutally mistreats his Jewish maid Helen Hirsch and randomly shoots people from the balcony of his villa, and the prisoners are in constant fear for their lives. As time passes, Schindler's focus shifts from making money to trying to save as many lives as possible. To better protect his workers, Schindler bribes Göth into allowing him to build a sub-camp.

As the Germans begin to lose the war, Göth is ordered to ship the remaining Jews at Płaszów to Auschwitz concentration camp. Schindler asks Göth to allow him to move his workers to a new munitions factory he plans to build in Brünnlitz near his home town Zwittau. Göth agrees, but charges a huge bribe. Schindler and Stern create "Schindler's List" – a list of about 850 people to be transferred to Brünnlitz and thus saved from transport to Auschwitz.

As the Jewish workers are transported by train to Brünnlitz, the one carrying the women and girls is accidentally redirected to Auschwitz-Birkenau; Schindler bribes Rudolf Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz, with a bag of diamonds to win their release. At the new factory, Schindler forbids the SS guards from entering the factory floor without special permission and encourages the Jews to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Over the next seven months, he spends much of his fortune bribing Nazi officials and buying shell casings from other companies; due to Schindler's own machinations, the factory does not produce any usable armaments during this period. Schindler runs out of money in 1945, just as Germany surrenders, ending the war in Europe.

As a Nazi Party member and war profiteer, Schindler must flee the advancing Red Army to avoid capture. The SS guards in Schindler's factory have been ordered to kill the Jewish workforce, but Schindler persuades them not to, so that they can "return to [their] families as men, instead of murderers." He bids farewell to his workers and prepares to head west, hoping to surrender to the Americans. The workers give Schindler a signed statement attesting to his role in saving Jewish lives and present him with a ring engraved with a Talmudic quotation: "Whoever saves one life saves the world entire." Schindler is touched but also ashamed, as he feels he should have done even more. He breaks down sobbing, and is comforted by the workers. After he and his wife leave, the Schindlerjuden spend the night on the factory grounds and are awoken the next morning by a Soviet officer, who announces that they have been liberated. The workers leave the factory and walk to a nearby town, encountering a Red Army cavalryman who stares at them in silence when asked "are there any Jews left?"

An epilogue reveals that Schindler's marriage failed after the war, as did his attempts to start new businesses, while Göth was arrested, tried, and executed for crimes against humanity. Schindler was later honored by Yad Vashem for his efforts to save his workers from being put to death. In the present, many of the surviving Schindlerjuden and the actors portraying them visit Schindler's grave and place stones on its marker, the traditional Jewish sign of respect on visiting a grave. The final visitor is Liam Neeson, who lays two roses on the marker.

  • Source Wikipedia: Schindler's List


Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson was interested on playing the role of Oskar Schindler, but the director didn't want the actor to overpower the character itself.
Fiennes looked so much alike his character in costume that when Mila Pfefferberg met him, she got scared and trembled because of him.
128 survivors pay their respects at Schindler's grave in Jerusalem. The producers scrambled to find the Schindlerjuden and fly them in to film the scene.
Spielberg called Robin Williams to cheer him up because of the lack of humor in the set.

One of the best films that I've watched, thanks to my World Literature subject, that shows a story of a man who's (you can consider) a villain who has seen the truth and opened his eyes for him to see that was happening around him is not right anymore. Oskar Schindler was a member of the Nazi Party who saved the lives of many Jews (about 1,200 people) during the Holocaust by employing them at his factory of enamelware that changed into making ammunition for the war. In the film, it was shown that the list was made before they move to another location so that they will be safe of being gas poisoned in Auschwitz.
You can only watch this movie once, because the movie will have so much impact in your views in life, that every scene in the movie will remain in your mind that you'll think of on how hard it is to live on those times of war. There are many scenes in the movie that would hunt you for days (if you keep it to yourself). You'll need to watch some other movies or videos for you to move on in watching the movie, because it will really make you think of how did each of the characters feel, on how they lived after the war ended. And knowing that its a true to life story, that every character is real is ----a mix emotion of sadness, anger and frustration.
Doing this, and remembering the scenes of the movie makes me emotional and feel an ache in my heart.

Moving on...

Let's talk about the film itself.

They start filming on March 1993 in Kraków, Poland, where they shoot near the actual locations and reconstructed the Plaszow camp because modern high apartments have been built already in the location. They also constructed a replica of a portion of the death camp in Auschwitz just outside the entrance of Birkenau. The language German and Polish was occasionally used in the film to create a sense of realism. it was also considered that the film would be film only using the said language, but it would been a distraction to those who do not speak of the language (because the audience would only focus on the subtitles reading and not in the movie itself).
Spielberg decided to shoot it like a documentary rather than like a storytelling movie. The film was mainly shot in black and white to match a documentary like feeling footage of the era, and to give an impression of timelessness to the film. To Spielberg, the symbolism of it is "The Holocaust was life without light. For me the symbol of life is color. That's why a film about Holocaust has to be black-and-white.".


One of the symbolism of the movie is the Black-and-White color of the film, that has been discussed before. Here are the other symbolism that you'll see in the movie.

The little girl in red coat
In my search of meaning behind this, the red coat symbolizes the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, Spielberg intended to convey on how members of the highest United States government levels knew what was happening and didn't do anything about the situation. They turned a blind eye. For me, the red coat symbolizes the violence and anger, then by the little girl wearing it symbolizes the attention that it makes in those times. It was a time of World War II, and other country is also at war with another, that is why some of the people that time didn't care for what was happening to the other side of the world, some people only see what was happening in their own surrounding, and as human a human being, we only care for our own survival or the survival of our own family in that time of war. And they only notice on who was really one of the victims of the war, which are the Polish-Jewish people.
Unintentionally, the character is similar to a Holocaust survivor who was known in the Krakow Ghetto for her red coat, Roma Ligocka. Unlike her fictional character, she survived and published her own story entitled The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir.

It was shown in the start and in the Sabbath scene in the movie. The movie started with a colorful surrounding, and as the candle burned and burn until the fire stopped burning with the colors also fading with the candle. The first set of candle symbolizes the liveliness and the peaceful lives of the Jewish people, it started to fade when the war started and the people cannot find hope in those times of war. The lost of color also symbolizes the feelings of the people in the Holocaust, their lost of hope, the darkness in that time of war, their lives which is like a candle to those who kill, like their lives not matter.
The next scene which has also a candle is when Schindler asked Rabbi that he should prepare for sabbath, than in the next few frames we'll see the candle burning bright with color. This only symbolizes the growing hope that Schindler made to those he'd save from death. The people started go light up and glow with their smiles.


The actors justified all the needed expressions in each scene, of course with the direction of Steven Spielberg, helped us feel what we should feel in that moment of each scene in the movie. Whether if it's fear, sorrow, anger, hate, doubt, questioning, etc. In this day we could say that its an all-star cast but if you do research each of the actors popularity back then, you wouldn't say that.
Liam Neeson did a great job in handling the role of the main character. As I've read in some articles he really studied the way of speaking of Schindler, with the help of Spielberg, and did a research on how to act like the character himself.
Making Mila Pfefferberg tremble in fright in his costume, Ralph Fiennes did also a great job in being the sinister like Amon Goth. For me, his German accent acting is exceptional, and his acting that like he's the devil that you should not talked to because you'll never know if you'll live after you talk to him.
Ben Kingsley, who played the role of the accountant Itzhak Stern, played the role very well. The way he acted in the scene of finishing the list, the scene where he's giving the ring made to Schindler, the act of worrying, he made it look that the character is also important in saving his people.
The film will not be whole without the extras, the people who got naked just for us to see what really happened back then, especially the women. To those who acted as the enemy, for being brave in taking the role of the comrade of the antagonist.

This film will make you think of the lives of those who are in the other side of the world fighting for the freedom that anyone deserves. Freedom is a right of every people that lives in this world, and we should not be afraid on taking for what is right for us. Let this movie be a symbol of Hope that even if you've forget your right, there's one person who will stood up and fight for you.

I recommend this movie to anyone who can handle real-life situation, like the one which was depicted in this story. Its not for the fainthearted individual, I must say. It's a depressing story, for me, so don't watch it alone because it is a movie that you should talk with another person after watching it so that you could release some heavy feeling that the movie will give you. If you'll watch this with your own family, give guidance to your young ones, especially those teenagers (if your an adult, you know what I mean), but I suggest that don't let them watch this until they're 18 y/o or older, because the movie has a lot of scenes that might be too much for them, for the film is very realistic.

If you got to this part, thank you for reading, please give your own opinion/reaction in the comment section. If I left any missing detail please comment it down. This is my first post so you could suggest something that might be missing, so that I could be aware on what are the details that are needed for others to be informed on.