Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre(s): Biography, Drama, War
Runtime: 195 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Director Steven Spielberg released two very different films in 1993: the dinosaur-oriented action-adventure Jurassic Park (1993) and the genocide drama Schindler’s List. Set during World War II, German industrialist Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) works to save Jews from the worst of the Holocaust by having them work in his factory. This epic, chilling masterpiece (based on a true story) is in the running for the greatest motion picture in cinema history.
This meticulously crafted movie benefits from impeccable (mostly black-and-white) cinematography and effortless-looking performances. It’s interesting to note that the character development here is not obvious or in-your-face. The Oskar Schindler character’s transformation from indifferent, greedy businessman to savior of hundreds of people is subtle and takes time. This change does not occur in a single episode. The picture raises issues with the duality of man. Why are some humans so heroic, while others are so evil?
John Williams’ melancholy, aching musical score is one of the best aspects of the movie. While the film deals with both the plight of the Jews in Eastern Europe and Oskar Schindler’s efforts to rescue them, the end result never feels like two separate movies joined at the hip. Violence here is brutal and graphic, but it never crosses the line into becoming gratuitous. While most of the feature is appropriately downbeat, there are a few moments of tasteful humor.
Watching Schindler’s List, with its recurring motif of paperwork, may seem like a daunting task, considering it’s a three-plus-hour film about the Holocaust. However, Steven Spielberg is a careful and prudent guide to this world, making sure that the finished product is watchable (if still heartbreaking), balancing horror and Hell with hope and heroism. This picture should be shown in high schools and comes very, very highly recommended.
My rating is 10 outta 10.