Schindler's List (1993)

R   |    |  Biography, Drama, History


Schindler's List (1993) Poster

In German-occupied Poland during World War II, industrialist Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis.


8.9/10
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  • Ben Kingsley in Schindler's List (1993)
  • Steven Spielberg and Liam Neeson in Schindler's List (1993)
  • Schindler's List (1993)
  • Liam Neeson in Schindler's List (1993)
  • Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson in Schindler's List (1993)
  • Ralph Fiennes and Embeth Davidtz in Schindler's List (1993)

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Director:

Steven Spielberg

Writers:

Thomas Keneally (book), Steven Zaillian (screenplay)

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4 June 1999 | Jaime N. Christley
Splendid; the only 90's film on my Top Ten
One thing we forgot about Steven Spielberg, that no one really seems to notice. He is the most skillful handler of gallows humor outside of Tarantino and the Coen brothers.

Gallows humor: the pain of real life, happening to someone else. Please understand, I'm not speaking of the truly horrifying scenes of massacre in this film and "Saving Private Ryan". I'm talking about specific instances only. Consider the scene in the "...Ryan" film where a soldier is struck in the helmet with one bullet, is amazed that he has lived, and is shot through the head after another soldier comments, "lucky bastard." It has the rhythm of comedy, and we might laugh if we weren't scared stiff. It shocks us and keeps us off-balance, which is precisely why both movies work so very well for all of their considerable running times. They also give Spielberg license to be sentimental later on--he's EARNED his right to be sentimental in those movies.

The thirty-minute opening to "...Ryan" and many scenes in "Schindler's List" grip people in a very unique way, and often they can't completely describe it. That's because they CAN'T completely sum up how they feel. Here's what it is. Spielberg never lets us settle down with one defense mechanism for these sequences, because when we do we let our guard down somewhere else. I can say with impunity and without exaggeration that Spielberg is the finest manipulator of movie audiences since Alfred Hitchcock.

"Schindler's List" could've been just another comprehensive look at the Holocaust. I'm not saying that that would not have been needed, but I'm very impressed that he didn't settle for "just another." He's made a remarkable film memorializing the most heinous criminal act in modern times, and he made it DIFFERENT from every other movie we've ever seen. Yes, there are influences we can catalog, and we can argue that no filmmaker has really done anything special with the cinematic art since D.W. Griffith, but that's not my point. Spielberg has sewn in moments of grief, fear, depressing thrills, breathtaking spectacles, grotesquely brutal acts, and perfect little snippets of comedy. The Wagner-backed helicopter raid in "Apocalypse Now" did that for about twenty minutes. Spielberg has given us three gorgeous, haunting hours.

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Biography | Drama | History

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