Schindler’s List (1993) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of 501 Must See Movies Project . He also reviewed Amadeus HERE and Platoon HERE and A Beautiful Mind HERE and Braveheart HERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! ūüôā Now let’s hear his thoughts on Schindler’s List, IMDB rank 8 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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As World War II begins, the Nazis move Polish Jews into the Kraków Ghetto.  Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a member of the Nazi Party, arrives in Krakow to make a fortune.  Bribing local German officials and making connections with the local Jewish black marketeers through Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), Schindler opens a factory producing enamel ware.  He hires numerous Jewish workers, who cost less than Polish workers, and saves those workers from being sent to concentration and extermination camps.

SS officer Amon¬†Goeth¬†(Ralph¬†Fiennes) arrives in Krak√≥w¬†to oversee the construction of the¬†PŇāasz√≥w¬†concentration camp.¬† Once the camp is completed, he orders the ghetto be liquidated, killing many of the Jews in the process.¬† Schindler witnesses this from a distance, and shifts his priorities from making money to saving as many lives as possible.

This is Spielberg’s masterpiece.

There are very few films I’ve watched where I just have to sit and really let it soak in once the end credits roll.¬† Movies like this really put into perspective how pathetic and petty my “struggles” really are.¬† That’s been the case both times I’ve watched¬†Schindler’s List.

Someone who makes a film about something as significant as the Holocaust has to be all in: directing, motivating performers, production, set design, etc.¬† Though the full scope of the Holocaust can’t be completely explored in one movie, Steven Spielberg has probably come the closest to accomplishing this.¬† Filming most of the movie in Poland instead of at a studio, using actors who work best in performing the complex emotions and actions of their characters are a couple of the things Spielberg nails spot on with¬†Schindler’s List.

Stanley Kubrick was in production of his own Holocaust film,¬†Aryan Papers, about the same time that¬†Schindler’s List¬†was released.¬† He abandoned it, though, in part because of the broad scope of the subject matter.¬† His critique centered on the fact that¬†Schindler’s¬†focuses on those who survived, a much smaller group compared to the more than 6 million who didn’t.

The black-and-white enhances the gravity of the subject matter.¬† The way¬†Schindler’s List¬†is filmed conveys the human element that a documentary can’t quite capture while still having that documentary-type feel.

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Liam¬†Neeson¬†gives one of the best performances of his career.¬† He handles the various emotional stages Schindler goes through authentically.¬† It’s interesting to see his transformation from a boozing, gambling, womanizing man living the highlife to a man hellbent on saving as many lives as he can.¬† Witnessing the ghetto liquidation and¬†Goeth’s¬†heartless treatment of the Jews forces Schindler to stop keeping everyone at arm’s length and really take stock in his main purpose.¬† Though he had done quite a few movies prior to¬†Schindler’s List, he hadn’t had that one great breakout role.¬† As a result, his star power¬†doesn’t overshadow his performance as could have happened had a more accomplished actor been chosen for this role.

Having already won an Oscar for his role in¬†Gandhi, Ben Kingsley is a grounded, purposeful character with wisdom, insight, and perspective.¬† His nonverbal expressions provide a continuous reflection of Schindler’s character and his gradual transformation.¬† Stern acts as Schindler’s conscience to a certain extent.¬† He also offers perspective that Schindler has saved many lives when Schindler felt guilty for not sacrificing more to save more.

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Ralph¬†Fiennes¬†gives an Oscar-worthy performance as the heartless and cruel Amon¬†Goeth.¬† His intimidation tactics with the Jewish prisoners works well in keeping them in line out of absolute fear.¬† He seems like the kind of person who keeps pushing to see just how much he can get away with.¬† It’s good, though, that he can be bribed and Schindler can help set some boundaries with his random and senseless killings.

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“Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”

The final scene where the real life Schindler Jews placing stones on Schindler’s grave was especially moving.¬† I can appreciate someone like Spielberg wanting to tell their story and show the lasting impact that Oskar Schindler had on those that he saved.¬† The epilogue serves as a time capsule that reaffirms¬†that tangible human connection to those who lived and survived something as horrific as the Holocaust.

Having seen¬†Schindler’s List¬†twice now, I highly doubt I could sit through it again aside from watching it with someone else.¬† It’s one of those films that is so powerful and moving that it only needs to be watched once.¬† It is most definitely deserving of the 7 Academy Awards it earned in 1994, and remains timeless as it explored one of history’s darkest events.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.