This 1993 multiple awards winning classic is rightfully considered a masterpiece. If the mention of 7 Oscars, including Best Picture, Screenplay and Cinematography, don't give you a clue that you are dealing with a fantastic movie, then maybe the cast or the story will. Set during the second world war, it speaks about the unfair and truly awful destiny the Jews had to face during Hitler's tyrannic era.
It's a story about Oskar Schindler(Liam Neeson), a wealthy, smart man who decides to take advantage of the troubled times that the world was facing and make money out of it. He sets up a factory in Krakow, together with a quiet, smart Jew accountant(Ben Kingsley) by accepting and therefore helping the people living in the ghetto. Stern, the faithful right man, started the initiative, giving a hand to the ones in need, but after a while, Oskar sees his efforts and decides to continue his work, by rescuing as many men and women as he can, all ending into a touching, yet unbelievable situation where he has to buy more than 1100 people from Amon, the ruthless German commandant, in order to save them from Auschwitz and the terrible fate it waited for them. For that, he was always remembered as a hero and saviour, and the next generations of the people who he managed to get out the concentration camps are now more than the survivors of the remaining Jews in Poland after 44.
The story, therefore the screenplay, written by Steven Zaillian, after a Thomas Keneally book, was memorable, intense at points, with fantastic scenes from time to time, but it did felt a little too much. I think it's probably the only thing I would have to comment about this film- 3 hours is a bit too much, although I perfectly understand why they did it. Other than that, Steven Zaillian managed to tell a heartbreaking, tragic story in a script worthy of its accolades, although from what I've later heard, it wasn't entirely accurate. I set out with a clear opinion and feel of mister Schindler, but a discussion with a friend changed my mind. He said he read the book and that in it, Oskar didn't actually care about the people- his only interest was having a good, cheap workforce. This little detail was clearly modified in the script, and it disturbed me and somehow downgraded, even if just for a tiny bit,the film. They didn't tell the story like it happened, but then again, it is a film and I guess Spielberg and Zaillian have the right to somehow make the situation a little sweater and more cinematic, right?
Continuing the praises for this feature, I must mention Steven Spielberg who did a stunning job. I loved the direction and I felt it perfectly suited the atmosphere and the tone of it, not to mention that it helped portray the characters in the best way possible, even if they happened to be a ruthless killer or a silent housekeeper. The sudden killing spree in the ghetto on March 13 was just amazing- the whole production and the way it was shot was sensational, memorable and chilling. The red coat detail was well placed and added more drama to the already tragic situation.
The cinematography was definitely a high point of the film, as Janusz Kaminski used Black and White in such a beautiful, artistic and visually attracting way. The sets and costumes perfectly coordinated with the image and tone of the story, and the score, mostly orchestral, but with melancholic American hits sprinkled between,highlighted the essentials and made everything feel real.
As expected, the perfect cast delivered in a superb way, adding even more layers to already complex characters, and somehow fitting it into that era and its customs and way of being. I know everyone remembers and deeply appreciates Ralph Fiennes for his unbelievable rendition of Amon Goeth, and I do that,too, I cannot not notice the character or its delivery, but my personal favorites were Sir Ben Kingsley and Liam Neeson. They worked together seemingly effortless and maybe I liked them more because their parts were more approachable and real. While Neeson does his best to showcase the true side of Schindler, with charisma and intelligence, Kingsley, with his natural talent and poise, stands out for me, although his part is much more quiet and reserved.
Maybe I am overreacting about Schindler's list, but honestly, for me at least, it's one of those movies that is almost flawless, it's the type of film that perfectly blends the story with the visual and audio, creating a different, almost real word inside a frame, a film that moves you, all while featuring wonderful performances that cannot be missed.
Schindler's List is a must see feature for everyone.
Schindler was definitely a businessman, but then he changes after he sees what is going on around him. And that's what sets him apart, because others like him didn't.ReplyDelete
Fiennes as Amon Goth is reprehensible, but it's such a shocking character. He completely represents the Nazi movement- he is the heart and soul of it, because he was so convinced he was right. It's amazing to see someone like that brought to life on screen, which is why Fiennes's performance blows my socks off everytime I see this film. This is also a bit of a negative for the film with me since I like the villain more than the hero :P
It looks amazing and it's heartbreaking. I would suggest you watch the Pianist too. It is on the opposite end of this heinous spectrum.
I understand why Fiennes's character is more appealing, he exudes danger and instability and that makes you pay attention. I will try to get the Pianist, too! thanks!Delete
No you are certainly not overreacting. In my opinion it really is a masterpiece. Apart from Saving Private Ryan maybe, I've never felt so transported to a place and time of history. Before I saw this film 6 million was just a number I didn't really get. After this film, the truth of the holocaust really hit me.ReplyDelete
I completely agree with the last sentence, I also feel I understand the Holocaust better because of this film!Delete
Schindler's List *is* an absolute masterpiece, in my mind. It literally turned my life upside down and actually changed me as a person. I am capable of overreacting about it far more than you - I once wrote a ten paragraph 'review' of it.ReplyDelete
I've seen it quite a few times now, and I always get blown away by how it was made, and the performances in it. Ralph Fiennes was beyond amazing, and so were Liam Neeson and Ben Kingsley. I wish that all of them could have won Oscars that year (I don't think Kingsley was nominated, which sucked).
Anyway, I could go on and on about how much I love this movie, but I won't. Now I really want to watch it again (I don't know why, but I seem to like watching it a lot), but I just gave it to my friend to borrow. Seriously, it is like the most borrowed and watched DVD in my collection!
I can understand why it is the most borrowed film, and I like that it is, that means more people are seeing, especially younger ones! It deserves the attention! I'm glad to see we both loved it that much!Delete
Everything about this film is perfect, but I haven't been able to watch it again since I saw it when I was 17. Such a harrowing film, and Liam Neeson brought me to tears. I have the book, but I haven't read it yet (am going to try to get to it these holidays). Beautiful review!ReplyDelete
Thanks Ruth! I can understand why you can't see it again, it's hard to watch it at times!Delete
Thanks for the great review. I think this may be one of the "perfect" movies in the world. And where is Ralph Fiennes Academy Award? Really is there someone out there that thinks Tommy Lee Jones was better in Fugitve then Ralph in Schindler's List? Anyway,thanks for the review!ReplyDelete
Thank you for reading and commenting! Perfect movies? not quite, but very close to it, I agree!Delete
This is hands down Steven Spielberg's most important film as a director. Sure some will throw out E.T. or Saving Private Ryan or Jurassic Park, but Schindler's List is his landmark film. I'm so glad you got to see the sheer excellence of film that is Schindler's List.ReplyDelete
Oh man, I should really re-see Saving Private Ryan soon, it has been so long, that I forgot almost everything about it :(Delete
Splendid review! That is too bad they altered a pretty big plot point from the book, but I guess you can chug it out to 'creative license.' This is a tremendous film and perhaps Spielberg's best. "The red coat detail was well placed and added more drama to the already tragic situation." So very true, I think that is one of THE most indelible scenes ever on film.ReplyDelete
Thank you Ruth! I loved the red coat detail, it was very cool!Delete
This is a great film. I consider it the best of the entire 1990s. However, it is also a tough film to watch and I have never viewed it again since I saw it the first time.ReplyDelete
As for who Schindler really was, who's to say the book was any more or less accurate than the movie, or that your friend remembered the book clearly?
It is one of the best movies of 1990s, I agree! As for the book detail, yes, you may be right! :)Delete
It's been a long time since I watched this. Not since when it first came out. I think this is one film I need to watch again in order to fully appreciate it. Good review Diana.ReplyDelete
Thanks BT! Maybe it's time to revisit it :)Delete
I'm so glad you liked it. It's one of the few films I rate 10/10 - everything as you said was flawless. Fiennes work here is one of the best performances I've seen, but I agree that Neeson and Kingsley were fantastic too.ReplyDelete
I never give 10/10 for films, but this might actually deserve a 9.5 or 9.9 :)Delete