Schindler’s List


Movie: Schindler’s List

Release Date: December 15, 1993

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagalle, Embeth Davidtz

Personal History: Watched Before

Rating: 10 Oscars out of 10

 “This list…is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf.”

‘Schindler’s List’ is more than just a movie, it is a remarkable piece of art. Regardless of its devastating subject matter, as it is not an easy one to endure, it’s a brilliant film that should be watched, studied and revered for decades.

I have to prepare myself emotionally every time I sit down to watch it. I did today and I did three years ago when I watched it as part of my 365 Movie Day Challenge. ‘Schindler’s List’ is not only one of my favorite most influential movies of all time, it is currently ranked as number ten on that list. Below is an edited version of my blog entry from 2020. Click here for the unedited.

From A Movie a Day Keeps the Doctor Away December 22, 2020:

‘Schindler’s List’ was released in December of 1993 to international acclaim. It was hailed as a triumph for Steven Spielberg and went one to score twelve Academy Award nominations, winning seven including Best Picture and Best Director. It was listed as one of the greatest films ever made and attracted a worldwide audience. It was a huge commercial success, despite being over three hours long, and eventually became the fourth highest grossing film that year. (A good year for Steven Spielberg as his film, ‘Jurassic Park’ (see 52. Jurassic Park) was the highest grossing film in 1993.) I was one of the many that saw the movie during its theatrical run.

In January of 1994, I was starting my second semester of Graduate school in upstate New York. Before the semester started, me and my two roommates went on a trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania just for the hell of it. The night before we left on the short weekend trip, we went to see ‘Tombstone’ (see 138. Tombstone). On one of the nights when we got back, before classes started, we went to see ‘Schindler’s List.’ It was quite the difference in films, but both made a huge impact on me, although Steven Spielberg’s epic historical drama was ten times more emotional.

The documentary style film mixed with violence, gore and Spielberg’s trademark tender humanism was both devastating and riveting to watch. Even though there was a run time of over three hours, the time spent in the theater seemed to fly by as the tragic story unfolded. It was quite unlike any film I had ever witnessed before. I of course knew of the appalling events of the holocaust, but never before was I subjected to watching the horror that happened. It was a difficult film to watch but an important one. The film left me devastated. When the movie ended I was a complete emotional wreck, tears and all. Being with my two male roommates, I was embarrassed by my emotions and sprinted to my car, leaving them many steps behind me. By the time they caught up to me, I was able to compose myself, but it was clear what the movie had done to me. It was a quiet ride home from the theater.

The movie stayed with me for weeks. I couldn’t shake the harsh realities of World War II and those striking images that were depicted on the screen. I loved the film but I was equally disturbed by it. I of course recommended the movie to everyone, but with a warning that it was definitely not a movie for the feeble minded. With that said, I felt like it was an important film that everyone should and must see, so the recommendations continued. I rented the movie when it was released to home media and watched it with my mom. This was not her kind of movie in the least, but it was one that she respected and glad that she saw, although I think it was the first and last time she sat through it.

‘Schindler’s List’ remained one of my favorite movies of all time and one that I hold in very high esteem in regards to filmmaking. It was a history lesson as well as a work of art and one that resonated with you after you watched it. It was that rare movie experience that was more than just entertainment and a Hollywood movie. It was a personal journey and healing for the director, one that the viewer was lucky (and unlucky) to take with him.

I own ‘Schindler’s List’ on DVD but unlike most movies I own, especially ones that appear on this list, I do not watch it very often. In fact, including the time I first went to see it in theaters, I have only watched it a handful of times. It’s just a very difficult, somber movie to endure and I always feel drained after watching it. I actually started emotionally preparing for the viewing yesterday. So alone in my bed, with a box full of Kleenex by my side, I once again revisited ‘Schindler’s List.’

Steven Spielberg is quite a remarkable director and ‘Schindler’s List’ is still, after twenty-seven years, a tremendous piece of art. Everything about this film is gorgeous. It just seems that he along with his cast and crew put every ounce of heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into the making of this story. It is still horrifying. It is still devastating. It still makes me cry over and over again. That last scene always leaves me sobbing like a child. Any movie about persecution, regardless if it is due to race, color, creed or sexual orientation, angers me. A lot of my tears are angry tears. How can something like the holocaust happen? Then I remember the president (Donald Trump) we currently have in office in the United States and I am quickly reminded. Hate. Ignorance. Intolerance. Thankfully the orange stain will be removed in twenty-nine days.

There is one moment in ‘Schindler’s List’ that always kind of bothered me. Well, there are many, many scenes in this movie that bother me, but this one is in regards to artistry and not the horrific realities of the holocaust. Late in the film, a group of women are led into a room for showers. What made this an intense scene was the viewer doesn’t know if it was really a gas chamber or a shower. For one split second there is a shot of a woman taking off her clothing over her head revealing her breasts. I am not disturbed by her breasts, as there is plenty of justified nudity in the movie, both male and female, but by the way it was photographed. It is almost shown in a seductive, sexual manner. Maybe it’s just my interpretation but I always notice it and it always slightly takes me away from the film.

‘Schindler’s List’ is Steven Spielberg’s dramatic cinematic masterpiece. That is saying quite a lot when one looks at his impressive filmography. He has been behind the camera in some way, shape or form for countless blockbusters over the last fifty years. This is his seventh film that he directed on my list of most influential and favorite movies of all time (see 234. Saving Private Ryan169. Close Encounters of the Third Kind83. The Goonies61. E. T. the Extra-terrestrial52. Jurassic Park and 18. Raiders of the Lost Ark for the other six). With two more to go (7. The Color Purple and 4. Jaws) and an astounding three films in my top ten, he is by far my favorite contemporary director.


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