Schindler's List is Spielberg's crowning achievement
Steven Spielberg is well known for his action-adventure pictures, such as Jurassic Park, Jaws, E.T., Indiana Jones, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He has also made some more not-so-well known pictures. However, his Schindler's List, derived from the book, is his biggest masterpiece yet. Out of all the films of 1993, this movie is the best picture of the year. I have never seen a picture carried out with such emotion before. This movie will go down in history as a classic.
The movie is about Oskar Schindler (played wonderfully by Liam Neeson) and his rescue of over 1100 Jews from the Nazi concentration camps of World War II. The movie would have been easier to film if Schindler had been a perfect hero. The fact that he wasn't and that he had flaws like everyone else, made the movie more believable and heart-wrenching. He liked women, he was a Nazi himself and so it is ironic that he used his Nazi power to save the people that the Nazis were trying to get rid of.
It opens with a small color scene and then it moves into black and white. This adds a sense of reality to the film. Schindler, who owns a factory, needs to get Jews to work in it for free. Actually, what the Jews are getting in return is even more valuable than money. Freedom. He is freeing them from being destroyed. He is so generous that people ask him to let people work in the factory so they will live. He does so. We only see it happen once, but I feel that it happened more often. He has a heart but he also does it for his personal gain. At first, he just opens the factory to gain money. In the end, we see him spending all the money to save the Jews. He buys the workers and ends up with a car and a gold ring at the end of the movie.
We also get a look into other lives of World War II, such as Amon Goeth (played by Ralph Fiennes) and Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley). Goeth is a mean and hypocritical villian. He chooses a Jew to be his slave and do things for him. Soon, he finds himself in love with her. In a shocking scene, Goeth goes out on a balcony and just shoots people at random. His lover/slave, Helen Hirsch (Embeth Davidtz), watches in disgust. He doesn't care either. He is an evil man and for a moment in the film, when he lets a kid go for not being able to clean a bathtub, we see a compassionate man. Ten seconds later, he shoots and kills the kid. He isn't going to change and we know it.
Itzhak Stern is a Jew chosen by Schindler to work as an accountant. However, Stern has an effect on Schindler which is part of the reason Schindler decides to save all his workers. We see his compassion when he rescues Stern from being shipped to a concentration camp. Kingsley is perfect for the part and shows that he is afraid but brave enough to stand up for his beliefs.
However, the most powerful performance is by Neeson. He begins the movie just wanting money and women and power. In the end, he has turned his heart to saving all the Jews that he has employed. He does it so gradually, that we believe what we are seeing. There haven't been many performances better and more believable this year. The changing from a flawed Nazi to a flawed Nazi with a heart of gold is remarkably well done and should get the Oscar for best performance by an actor.
Schindler's List is rated R. There are many nudity scenes, but they are necessary for the film to have such an impact. The gore is plenty but also necessary. Maybe the only thing not necessary in the movie are the sex scenes. We knew Schindler was a womanizer, but the performance was so good, that we didn't even have to see it happen. There is a fair amount of profanity and vulgarity but everything in the film is pretty much necessary to make it believable. Like I said before, this is the best film of the year.
**** out of ****
Reviews by Boyd Petrie