Statement of intent:
I intend to write a purposeful film review of Schindler’s List, conveying the valuable elements of the film and why I believe you should watch the film. I will do this through looking at the film techniques, also looking at interviews from the actors to see how they approached their roles before the film. I also aim to achieve this by looking at how Steven Spielberg brought the film to life. I am aiming to affect reader so much they feel compelled to watch Schindler’s List.
Schindler’s List is a three hour emotion-grabbing, film directed by Steven Spielberg. Released in 1993, this film is based on historical events. It is set in Krakow, Poland during the holocaust in the Second World War and follows the complex, seemingly cold-hearted, entrepreneur, Oskar Schindler’s journey through the war where he saves over one thousand Polish Jews by employing them in his factory.
Oskar Schindler is played by Liam Neeson who was selected by director Steven Spielberg as he believed Liam would not only perform in the film for income but play the role superbly. Spielberg uses excellent film techniques which enhance the impact of the incredible film. Schindler draws the viewer in by his complexity towards different beliefs and how he manipulates different people, which ends up to be selfless as he isn’t doing it for himself. One of the people who Schindler plays on the most, manipulating as he tries to save as many Jews as possible, is Nazi Camp Commander Amon Goeth, acted by Ralph Fiennes who is portrayed as a dirty, sloppy alcoholic who treats the Jews as animals. We learn this from many different scenes. An example of this is when Goeth yells at his maid, comparing her to to rats and rodents, after screaming at her “Jewish bitch” while beating her. This is inhumane like behaviour which recurs throughout the entire film
Throughout the duration of film we learn Oskar Schindler receives two different viewpoints in the war, as the backbone of his business is ran by a Jewish accountant while he is part of the Nazi party who inflict conflict on the Jews. Through this connection, we the viewer learn the struggles of the Jewish people from constraints of the Nazi party choices. One technique which Spielberg has used in the film to convey this is parallel editing. The viewer is shown the contrast between the low life of the Jews and the high, superior life of the Nazis. A scene is shown where we see the Nazis enjoying a grand concert in a ballroom with sumptuous food, elegant concert music and luscious plants. The film then moves into loud, harsh sounds of letters being typed by the Nazis for the Jews as they leave their houses and walk down the streets towards the Ghetto, their new, grim home. Nazis shout at the Jews as sad, wailing orchestra music plays, while snow falls onto the Jews worried faces. There is no smiling. We learn from this scene how wealthy the Jews were from when they gathered their personal possessions such as silver, which they had much pride in, into a small suitcase, whilst being watched by the German offices who then forcibly removed them from their own homes into the crowd of marching Jews.
Steven Spielberg has used different contrasting techniques to elevate the film to have such a great message within. He has used indirect effects such as having the film set in black and white with selected scenes which have double the effect on the viewer. Spielberg chose to set the film in black and white because he felt that colour represented too happy and cheerful and bright a life. Spielberg uses the lack of colour, and only black and white to film the movie as a technique to show the pure, heart broken emotion of the Jewish people during the war. Some of the key black and white scenes were of the workers in the factory, the trains taking the Jews to the concentration camps, and inside the concentration camps where Jewish headstones were used to make roads for the Nazis to drive on. The factory remains in black and white throughout the film, and is silent and somber at the beginning, where workers are in fear of their boss Shindler, but this changes to the factory being their safe and secure house as it offers them an excuse to stay alive. The trains are also a unsightly part of the movie. The Jews are crammed aboard and suffer a lack of everything as they travel along to the concentration camps. Their faces are very dark and look strangled with fear, as they are trapped in this moving death trap with only a small gap which offers a glimpse back to their old world. Inside the concentration camps Spielberg has continued to film in black and white, which conveys the horror inflicted on the Jews. In stark contrast, the scene with the little girl in the red coat is emotionally moving which sticks in the viewer’s mind because of the vivid red coat. She continues to walk through the traumatic streets unaware of what the horrid Nazis are doing around her. This is one of only four colour shots in the whole movie including the girl in the red coat and her innocence.
Schindler’s List also illustrates the endurance of the Jewish people. Spielberg has done this by showing the terrible scenes of the Jews on the way to the gas chambers, whilst the remaining Jews stay happy and celebrate the fact they are still alive. The impact of the scenes on the viewer can be so great that they can be brought to tears. Spielberg is very good at choosing the best film techniques to do this, which are not always the obvious techniques. It is unusual to see a nearly silent, black and white movie that is also so awful be so incredibly entertaining, powerful and successful. Spielberg has directed it so successfully that he has conveyed to the viewer the horror and enormity of the death of 6 million jews.
To conclude Schindler’s List was a astonishing film to watch, conveying to the viewer a window of ghastly history. Steven Spielberg has been successful by using his filming skills, while respecting the tragedies which have fallen, like the masses of murderings. We can measure his success through the film winning seven different oscars at the 66th Annual Academy Awards in 1994. The film follows the unwanted Jewish Race as Hitler plans to execute the population. Personally, the scene which had the most effect on me was at the very end. It is revealed that the war is over, while the Jewish workers of Schindler’s factory are helpless, lying over each other but alive. A Russian force worker comes up to the Jews asking them: “Isn’t there a town over there?”. The film then moves into the Jewish workers walking over the horizon in black and white which fades into colour with the real people who endured the war, who eventually go and place rocks on Oskar Schindler’s grave stone. This re-enforces the film is about real people and real experiences which can not be unperformed . Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg is an exceptional film that causes the viewer to reflect on their fair, equal open lifestyle.