Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Movie Review: Schindler's List


Disclaimer: I watched this movie for a theology class titled "Christian Faith in the Management Professions." Basically, it's a class about theology in the business world (and a fantastic class at that!). Because of this, I was paying close attention to the business aspects of the story. I realize there is more to the story than that, and I have tried to highlight it in my review, but if I miss anything, or say something hurtful or offensive, I apologize. The Holocaust was a horrible event in history, so horrible movies and books cannot begin to address it, but we need to start somewhere.
With that said, I humbly present my review of this stunning movie.

Title: Schindler's List
Author: Steven Spielberg, Liam Neeson
Release Date: 1993
Genre: Drama, true story, historical, WW II
My Rating: ****
Official Rating: R
Age Group: 18+

World War II opens up a whole new world of business for eager entrepreneur Oskar Schindler. Finding that he can hire Jews much more cheaply than any other workers, the man makes a serious profit off Jewish labor while the Jews are kept in a Ghetto. His accountant/manager Itzhak Stern (also a Jew) takes the opportunity to make "essential workers" of people otherwise considered by the Nazis as useless. A one-armed man. Older people. A teacher. A little boy. The list goes on.
Slowly, Schindler starts to see the horrors that are happening around him and his little business. During the scene titled "Liquidation of the Ghetto" he finally sees reality and has no idea what to do.
Eventually, Schindler creates a good business that keeps Jews safe. When the camps begin to kill the Jewish people living in them, Schindler makes a list of all his workers. They are essential, he says, and he doesn't have time to train new ones. The little girls' fingers help clean out the shells of bullets, he argues, and they must come too. He pays the camp officials for his list of Jews and brings them to his home town where they work in a factory.
None of this, however, happens without struggle.

Word of Warning
 I'm going very general here. Let me say this: the movie is rated R and it has every reason to be. Personally, I regret seeing some of the scenes of this movie. It was very intense.
  • Death. People die all the time. Most are shot in the head. A head blows to pieces, blood spurts from wounds, etc. Most of the violence is non-graphic and almost calm in an utterly disturbing way.
    • Most memorable and painful death moments: a young child is killed and more young deaths are implied; the man's head being blown off; a whole "cabin" of men is lined up and every other man is shot; about five men are lined up and shot with one bullet, those remaining standing are shot individually; a man is hanged; a hospital shooting where everyone there is shot (the nurses killed the patients beforehand secretly); little boy shot while being held up by soldiers; the random killings by Goeth which are shown from affair but sudden an unexpected
  • Nudity. Both Schindler and Amon Goeth (camp official) have mistresses. Goeth's mistress is seen completely topless more than once, but as far as I can remember not in a purposefully sexual way. It's usually just morning and she is lounging in bed. Jews are told to remove all clothes and forced to run about the camp for a physical evaluation--men and women are shown completely nude. This is non-sexual and usually brief. Women are shown completely nude going into a giant shower house. Again, non-sexual.
  • Schindler is a player. He has a wife but is not at all faithful to her, and she spends most of the movie living elsewhere. He has a regular mistress in addition to flirting with other women and, in one scene, kissing a whole bunch of different women.
  • An official mocks a young women who is barely dressed, beats her, and leaves her for dead.
  • Drinking. One character is shown drunk.
  • Burning of dead bodies.
  • Language is an issue, but not to the point where it detracts from the movie. Considering how, when, and who uses it, I think it makes sense. It's just not appropriate language for younger children, but they should not be watching this movie.
  • This movie is considered a relatively accurate representation of the Holocaust.

My Thoughts
This is a horrific masterpiece. I'm not sure how to describe it. The music, the acting, the black and white film, the dullness and simplicity, everything. It all adds up to show a beautiful story in the midst of something utterly horrific.
In the midst of it all, Schindler is oblivious at first, just as the girl in the red coat. But as he watches the girl, he comes to a realization: he can't be clueless anymore. She remains so, and dies. Schindler decides to live purposefully--and not just for money.
Money isn't the greatest good anymore--people are.
My heart broke more than once as I watched this movie. I don't regret watching it, but it was very very painful--as it should be.
Wonderfully done. Beautiful horrible story.
Praise God for giving us people like this in our times of need, to rescue the few they can.
And praise God for giving us film makers like this who can share the story and touch hearts all over again.


grandma jane said...

Thank you for this review as it clearly shows you recognized the importance of this film. I can't imagine any other hitting the mark as well as this film for your Faith in Management Professions class, brutal as that movie may be.

Glad you talked about that important piece of symbolism in this film, all black and white except for the red coat.

If I may add, according to the movie, Schindler's List was adapted from the book Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally. Though I personally have not read the book I might have to now... your reviews do do spark an interest. ;-)

And I hope you don't mind if I suggest another book that may help ease some of the pain from having viewed Schindler's List, the biography of Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning.

Maria Gianna said...

Hi grandma jane,

Yes, the film was heartbreaking but a piece of art nonetheless. We did not, as you can guess, spend much time on the symbolism in class, but it was so obvious that even I, an English major who struggles with that, found it fascinating.

Yes, it was! In fact, I am currently working my way through that book right now. I expected it to be more of a biography type genre, but it feels a lot like a narrative and is well-written. I don't mind a biography, it's just I wasn't expecting narrative (and narrative still remains my favorite, despite everything else out there). It's taking a while to get through it (what with school and all), but I really like it. As much as one can with a book like that, I mean.

I always appreciate a book recommendation! I will look into it, especially with breaking coming up soon. Thank you!