Schindler’s List (1993)

schindlers_list

Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Thomas Keneally’s novel based upon the role of Oscar Schindler during the holocaust was very much his cinematic coming of age.

Many have criticised Schindler as a profiteer and coward for not taking up arms against the Nazis. He was not a soldier and if he had done, at best he may have killed a handful of inconsequential German troops before dying a “hero’s death”; and every man, woman and child who worked in his factory would have been murdered. Spielberg does not shy away from the fact that he was not a saint, showing him to be a womaniser and hedonistic opportunist but when he was faced with the human tragedy of his environment he acted; a reaction that was all too rare at the time. In fact Spielberg draws parallels between Schindler and Goeth, his counterpart in the military work camp but whereas the industrialist was a man of compassion, Goeth was the embodiment of the Nazi party; a cold, cruel and ruthless man who acted without conscience or mercy. It’s true that the film is guilty of button pushing, but it is the manipulation of a master story teller; the highlighting of the little girl in the red coat in particular is obviously Spielberg’s way around the old adage of “one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.” Putting a human face on an individual tragedy is the only way it is possible to process horror on such an unimaginable scale.

Beautifully shot and expertly played, Schindler’s List is a remarkable and moving film that will no doubt be part of a larger monument to an atrocity that must be remembered to ensure that it is never, ever repeated.

10/10

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