I’ve always had this film on my radar, I’ve just never watched it. The only reason I’d not watched it was because all I’d heard about it (apart from it being amazing) is that it is really, really, REALLY sad; for obvious reasons. And I don’t deal well with sad films. So that’s a warning to anyone who is like me and can’t hold it together when something sad happens. Maybe don’t watch this film. Or Maybe just watch it once and then never again. I definitely recommend this film though, but it does come with that one warning: it’s shocking and incredibly sad.
Schindler’s List is, as I’m sure you all know, is a historical drama by Steven Spielberg set during the Holocaust. There’s a man named Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson), who is a factory owner and entrepreneur who realises that by keeping Jews in employment at his enamel factory he can actually create an escape route for some of them already in camps and avoid them being set to Auschwitz. He himself is a Nazi supporter but it just reinforces that not all Nazi supporters were in support of the murder of Jews. Oskar uses his wealth and power to bribe people to let him keep buying Jews to work for him. His ‘List’ being the long list of Jews he wants rescued from the camps and sent to him for work.
Steven Spielberg’s decision to shoot in black and white was the best thing he could have done for this film. It makes Schindler’s List so much more harrowing than I think it would have been in colour. It feels much more real. Also the speed at which they filmed it made it even more intense and urgent. Spielberg’s amazing directing landed him an Academy Award. The majority of the movie was filmed in and around Krakow in Poland giving it that additional element of reality.
One minor downside to Schindler’s List is how long it is. It’s 3 hours land 15 minutes long. I watched it in two halves because even for me I think sitting and watching a film straight for 3 hours is a bit much.
There is some incredible acting in Schindler’s List. There’s no other way to describe it. In particular I want to call out Ralph Feinnes. He plays Amon Goeth, the commander of the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp in Poland. He is one nasty piece of work and it’s really shocking to see some of things he does, says and the way he treats the Jews. It really makes you question how someone of his age could have been so brainwashed that he thought he was doing the right thing. Ben Kingsly, who played Itzhak Stern and Embeth Davidtz, who plays Helen Hirsch also deserve special mentions for their stellar performances.
This film was very upsetting throughout but when it ended, I was surprised how it didn’t affect me as much as other holocaust films did, such as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Dir. Mark Herman). I was trying to understand why this was. I’ve established that The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was in the point of view of innocent, naive children, which always makes everything 10x worse. They also showed a lot more of the horrors of the concentration camps and what happened there, leading to devastating consequences. Whereas in Schindler’s List, there are a lot of shootings, but as film watchers, we do see at lot of graphic shootings in films nowadays and that’s probably nulled our senses. It’s the parts in the concentration camps that hit home about the true horrors of the holocaust. Schindler’s List skimmed over a lot of those aspects and when they started to show some of Auschwitz, certain things don’t happen that you thought might happen, or perhaps were expecting to happen. This keeps you on the edge of your emotional seat. On one hand, I’m glad they didn’t go into details as it’s not actually the main focus of this story and I may have not made it to the end of the film. But on the other hand, they did gloss over some of the real horrors that these innocent people were subjected.
I think everyone should see holocaust films, even if it’s only once. We should be reminded about what happened during that time. Schindler’s List reinforces that there were people helping to save the Jews and that not everyone was on the same page. It’s important to remember that this is based on a true story and Oskar Schindler should always be remembered. Please give this a watch, it keeps his story alive. It is very deserving of its ‘Best Picture’ Academy Award. Let me know what you think.
If you have Sky, Schindler’s List is currently on Sky Movies available for download at any time and it’s also part of the Amazon Prime Video subscription. The Boy in the Striped PJs is on Netflix if you have that, also a must-see.
All my love & films,