Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Schindler’s List (1993) – Classic Review

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Every once in a while, there comes a film that has transcended the tests of time, that is just so powerful, emotive, striking, shocking, compelling and mesmerising, words simply cannot even begin to describe it. Spielberg’s 22nd feature is that film.

Set in the Krakow ghetto in Nazi occupied Poland, “Schindler’s List” is an epic historical tale of struggle, defiance, bravery and determination revolving around one Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), an ethnic German businessman whose initial agenda to make a substantial profit off Jewish workers takes an emotionally moral-driven turn for the better after he witnesses the sheer terror and brutality these Jews are subject to.

By no means an out and out hero himself, Oskar Schindler’s association with both parties (Jews and Nazi’s) is intriguing and incredibly risky. His ongoing bribery of numerous Nazi members and maintenance of a strong and mutual bond is a tense and gripping journey in itself.

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The film is immaculately shot, utilising the incredible power of black and white cinematography blended with sporadic splashes of colour to evoke symbolism and emotion.

The messages and themes are harrowing to say the least. Graphic and unrelenting imagery of mass murder and dehumanisation dominate the historical epic piece and at many times, it is simply too much to handle.

Generating an incredible sense of realism, Spielberg makes the effort to incorporate longer takes, vast depth of field shots and in numerous instances, the gritty and raw effect of the ‘hand held’ camera. These cinematic tools ultimately give the film a largely realistic feel, sometimes even too realistic.

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It’s seems unsettling and strange seeing the magnificent Ralph Fiennes play such a malicious character so soon after witnessing him as the flowery Mr. Gustav H. from “The Grand Budapest Hotel” released some 20 years after ‘Schindler’. Fiennes plays Amon Goeth, a trigger-happy SS officer whose relationship with Schindler is testing and unnerving. Fiennes is absolutely astonishing as Goeth. His hostility and venomous attitude to not only the Jewish citizens cement him as a true force of evil, however even the most barbaric of villains can be subject to change.

What is most frightening when watching the haunting spectacle that is “Schindler’s List” is that this is merely a portion, a sub story in comparison to the immensity that was the Nazi regime.

Minimal mentions of Adolf Hitler could be seen as a deliberate decision to highlight the vastness of it all, just thinking about it is poignant in itself, and when thinking of how many films, documentaries, books, journals and articles have been written or directed around the theme of the Nazi regime, it is simply incomprehensible and unfathomable to say the least.

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Sir Ben Kingsley’s efforts as Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern are simply stupendous. A character that is so sympathetic and tender, Stern is a figure that almost takes the form of Schindler’s conscience in many ways. His morals, his intelligence and his logistics make him the voice of reason in the story, with the majority of the film’s emotional drive emerging from him. The three central characters (Schindler, Stern and Goeth) are impossible to separate in terms of dominant performances, with each performance being equally as outstanding as the other.

It is highly disappointing to see that Empire magazine has “Schindler’s List” barely scraping into the top 50 films of all time. It is a criminal act that Empire have committed. Ranking films (though brilliant in their own right) such as “The Big Lebowski”, “The Return of The King” and “The Matrix” ahead of this masterpiece is an atrocity.

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Spielberg’s epic historical drama is undoubtedly one of the best ten films ever made, if not top five. It is such a captivating journey and an incredible vision that observes mankind at his very worst.

Exhibiting a small portion of the worst period in modern human history, “Schindler’s List” is a triumph. A marvellous but ferociously realistic film that is so moving and profound; it attacks, confronts and strikes it’s audience where it hurts. As difficult to watch as it is at points, the flawless construction of the faultless piece is so amazingly engaging, there is just so much to appreciate about “Schindler’s List”.  

Words simply cannot do this film justice.

5/5

2 comments on “Schindler’s List (1993) – Classic Review

  1. Noémie
    May 16, 2014

    I remember watching some parts of it when I was smaller as my mother and sisters were probably watching it once a year. I always thought that was the most boring movie ever (well, you don’t know much when you’re under 10…).
    Anyway it took me a while to decide to give it a real try, around 5 years ago! But since I can definitely say (and agree with you :p) that this is one of the best movies I’ve seen!

    No link with the story but following the topic “some of my favourite movies” I feel like recommending “Philadelphia”

    And as the Cannes Film Festival started this week I recommend “Rust and Bone” (De rouille et d’os)
    🙂

    • wmsteele
      May 16, 2014

      Haha, yeah I can totally understand why you would’ve thought it was boring but at the same time it’s so full on that if is seen it at 10 I would’ve been scarred for life haha!

      Thanks for the recommendation on Philadelphia and Rust and Bone, I’ll be sure to give them a look!
      🙂

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