Return to Classics: SCHINDLER’S LIST


Do you have a ‘must-watch movies’ list? Because if you do and you still haven’t added Schindler’s list to it, your list is inadequate. Schindler’s List, based on a true story is an iconic drama film directed by Steven Spielberg showcasing the monstrosity of the Holocaust and the benevolence of an opportunistic German businessman and member of the Nazi party Oskar Schindler, who gave it all to save as many Jewish lives as possible. It is a movie that excels on every parameter whether plot, characters, costumes, lighting and scenes which makes it worth repeated viewings. Released on December 15, 1993, in the United States, it amassed a whopping $321.2 million worldwide on a $22 million budget. It was awarded with seven Academy Awards out of 12 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score and numerous other awards.

Schindler’s List begins with unidentified hands lighting the pair of holy Sabbath candles and the sound of Hebrew prayer songs. This coloured scene ends with a wisp of smoke that rises from the candle as its flame dies. The transition from coloured scene to black and white scene
hereafter, transports the audience to 1939 war-ridden Krakow, Poland where a vast majority of the Jewish populace was being forced into Krakow Ghettos. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a war-profiteer arrived here from Czechoslovakia to try his luck as a manufacturer of enamelware for the German military. His face often visible half in shadows seemingly portrays the shrewd, mysterious and self-centred attitude of the businessman. He befriended and bribed the Nazi officers. His great liaisons underpinned his employing of Polish Jews as cheap labour in the factory that he acquired with Jewish Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) to manage administration. Another significant character of the film is Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) the SS second lieutenant who is nothing but a monster under the guise of a man. A schadenfreudian predator who murdered and tortured Jews for being Jews. The film noir style heightened the impact of the movie in the hearts of the audience- the merciless torture, the dilapidated ghettos, the traumatising labour camps, the asphyxiating train journey from the labour camps to the gas chambers, the petrifying gas chambers and the heartrending deaths of millions of Jews irrespective of their age or gender. Oskar Schindler, touched by the harrowing ramifications of the war undergoes a profound transformation that evokes him to pay Amon certain amount for each of his worker and keep them from being transported to Auschwitz. The ‘Schindler’s List’ consisted of the names of the skilled workers who worked for him; he tried including as many of them as possible because the ‘List’ was the difference between life and death for the Jews. After the end of the war, Schindler tells his workers that they were free but he with his wife will have to elude as they were being hunted as war criminals. When he bids his Schindler’s Jews goodbye, they gave him a ring made from gold tooth of a worker engraved with Talmudic phrase, “Whoever saves one life saves the entire world.” Oskar Schindler saved more than thousands of Jews, yet he broke down thinking that he could’ve saved maybe just one life more if he could sacrifice more. The next morning a Russian soldier tells the Jews that they were free. As they walk, the black and white picture gives way to a full coloured picture of a group of real Holocaust survivors placing rocks on Schindler’s tombstone accompanied by a few actors in the movie. The audience learns that Amon Goeth was hanged as a war criminal and also that Schindler sheltered approximately 1,100 Jews and at the time of the film’s release the survivors and descendants of Schindler’s Jews were over 6,000. The scene closes with Liam Neeson paying tribute to Oskar Schindler by placing a rose on his tombstone in Israel.

The movie, Schindler’s list leaves you with goose bumps, a heavy heart, teary-eyed, aphonic, and a prayer on your lips for the world to become a better place devoid of the bleakest possibility of a war.

Article contributed by:

Prerna Mitra
In-House Writer

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