"Schindler's List" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
There are numerous scenes throughout Steven Spielberg's 3-hour epic, "Schindler's List" that will stay with you as the credits roll. The scene that will stay with me the most is towards the end of the film, and is actually the last scene we see of Liam Neeson playing Oskar Schindler. When forced to leave the factory with the saved Jews, Schindler starts reflecting on what he could have done, and how he could have saved many more Jews from the uncertainty of the concentration camps during World War 2. He breaks down and cries in the arms of Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), who is his longtime friend and partner in his business. It is perhaps one of the less frightening or intense scenes in the film, but I think it packs as much of a punch as the scenes that take place in the concentration camps. This is due to the film humanizing our main character, showing that he is rather a flawed human being, like all of us, rather than a hero that saves the day in the end.
This film takes place during the peak of the occupation of France by Nazi Germany. We watch many times as the Jewish citizens are forced to experience horrible torture and conditions while placed in Jewish concentration camps. The concentration camps that the film focuses on are run by an evil Nazi named Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes).
When Schindler, who comes to this part of the world, is trying to start a factory business, he enlists the help of the Nazi party to provide him funds for his new business. He supports the Nazi party as they are helping him get rich, but soon changes his political affiliation when he notices the harsh and cruel treatment of the Jewish people for no reason. Due to this, with help from Stern, he tries to bring as many Jewish people as he can into his factories to work for him, which provides a safe haven for the Jews that would be forced into the concentration camps. He pays out of his pocket to rescue these people, and in the end, he saved around 1,200 Jews.
This film is definitely a passion project for Spielberg, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew. You can definitely tell his hatred for the Nazis and what his ancestors had to endure during this time. He portrays the Nazis as horrible, cruel people; which is what they are essentially. Take the scene for example where Goeth just starts shooting at the Jewish people for no reason when he wakes up one morning. Instead of being appalled, the woman in his bed is mad that he is making such a loud noise so early in the morning. It doesn't seem like the Nazis are even human, but rather horrible, monstrous, killing machines.
The roles of Schindler and Goeth are played to perfection by Neeson and Fiennes, respectively. They both portray these two very different characters, but still help convince the audience that we are watching real life events. Fiennes, who has played horrible characters such as Lord Voldemort to humorous characters like M. Gustave, definitely gives one of the best performances of his career, and is perhaps one of the most despised characters in film history.
The experience of the Jews is extremely hard to watch, and there is no sugarcoating what they went through. Spielberg shows the harsh reality of what they went through, which leaves a sickening feeling in the stomach of the viewer. This is perhaps the best film to portray these events during WW2 because of the harsh imagery and gut-wrenching scenes that are depicted in this film.
I also appreciate the fact that Spielberg decided to shoot the entire film in B&W, except when we see the girl in the little red coat and the flicker of the candles. I think the girl in the red coat is perhaps one of the most haunting scenes in film history, and hits the viewer hard when both us and Schindler sees the girl dead in a cart. It is horrible and brings a tear to the viewer's eye, but this is what the Jewish people actually went through, and Spielberg does an amazing job bringing that to life in film.
Overall, this is perhaps one of the best WW2 movies in film history. It is powerful, gut-wrenching, depressing, but is absolutely perfect in almost every way. Spielberg does an amazing job of affecting the viewer in so many different ways, and showing them the evilness of the Nazi party during this time. I don't think anyone can really describe the pain or the trauma the Jews went through during this time, but this movie gets pretty damn close.