6th April 2017

Film Review

The film, “Schindler’s List,” directed by Steven Spielberg is a powerful film. The story is based on the German industrialist, Oskar Schindler, who risked his life rescuing 1200 Jews from the gas chamber during the Holocaust period. Initially he saw the Jews as being used for cheap labour. When he first came to Krakow, he came with nothing but a suitcase and a plan to leave with trucks full of money; but then, something changed.

Spielberg employs powerful techniques to ensure he portrays an unforgettable piece of history. “Schindler’s List,” begins with a close up shot of a hand lighting the candle and the sound of a Hebrew prayer. This is before the mass killing and when there is still hope for the Jews. The Jews are living in a normal life. The hope quickly fades away as the director brings us to black and white scenes for the majority of the film. This shift of colour brings the viewer closer to the events and the characters in 1939. This technique of bringing the viewer back in time is very effective as it represents the horror of World War 2, six years of killing and up to six million Jews killed. It captures the way many individuals envision World War 2- through black and white images and film style of the 1940s. The use of black and white also allows the director to emphasize the essential scenes or the essential characters. In one scene, Schindler catches sight of a little girl from a distance. She is wearing a red coat which draws the viewer to pay attention to her even when she is among hundreds of Jews in an extreme long shot. Schindler relates to the small defenseless girl in red, as she makes her way erratic and alone, to the building, hoping that she would be safe under a shelter. There, she climbs up the stairs and quickly hides under a bed- eyes and ears closed- in an attempt to hide from the world. She represents hope and innocence of the Jews trying their best to escape adversity. The moment Schindler catches sight of her, he is compelled to encounter the horror of the Jewish life as she walks through the violent crisis of her race as if nothing is happening. Another advantage of using black and white is it intensifies the barbarity and the amount of violence used by the Nazi officers in 1939.  For instance, when the one armed Jewish man gets shot in the head in the snowy streets in Krakow, his black blood spreads through the pure white snow, and the contrast in colours accentuates the split between death, morality and evil.

At the beginning of the film, Schindler is a member of Nazi party who only cares about the benefits for himself and his business. In the first place, Spielberg utilizes the technique of mise-en scene to demonstrate Schindler’s character, his luxurious clothes and a tie indicate him to be a fortunate and fashionable man, while his money shows us (both around his work area and which is saved) that while he introduces himself as wealthy, he still values the importance of money. His final item is a Nazi emblem in which he wears to emphasize the fact that he is a Nazi supporter. He is essentially an extortionist and a moderately successful businessman who knows nothing about running a business but he finds Itzhak Stern, a Jewish accountant who is an expert to run the business for him.  His only goal is to become rich, which is completely different from the Jewish circumstance. Schindler’s face is repeatedly in half-shadow at this stage, reflecting his self-centred dark side. A womanizer with a huge ego, Oskar Schindler continually cheats on his wife and trades illegal goods on the black market. However,as the film continues, Schindler slowly develops humanity. Midway through the film, Schindler and his wife witness the Jewish people being evicted from their homes and corralled into the Jewish ghetto from the top of the hill in Krakow. The turning point in the film is when Schindler spots the little girl in red. Almost immediately, he feels uncomfortable and quickly rides his horse back to his place. He then later sees her again, in a pile of dead bodies From this, it is only a matter of time before Schindler begins to spend millions saving “his” Jews; he finally comes to the understanding of the huge damage the Nazi party is making.. His face now becomes fully lighted as he makes the transformation from a war profiteer to a hero. In my opinion, Schindler’s List would not have had the same visual, touching and heartwarming impact if Spielberg created this film in colour. 

“Schindler’s List” is an educational film that is worth seeing. At the end of the film, Schindler has come to the realisation that many of the luxurious items he keeps to himself such as his car and his Nazi emblem are not as important as people’s lives. Schindler tells his workers that they are now independent and free to leave but he will be chased as a war criminal. The most final and touching scene, is when Schindler grieves, sobbing as he could have sacrificed more to save more Jews,If he sold his car and his Nazi emblem, 12 more people would have been alive. The film has shown us both hardship of the Jewish people and the inhumanity of the Nazi party, as well as the magnitude of human benevolence. When the workers gather outside the factory to bid farewell to Schindler, Stern steps forward and offers him with a gold ring made from the tooth of a factory worker, decorated with the Talmudic phrase, which beautifully concludes the film, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.”

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