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I'm not a film critic, but I'll tell you what I think about the movies I watch. I enjoy understanding the history behind the movies we watch, as well as the collaborative effort necessary to produce movies.

Schindler’s List


Schindler’s List (1993)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall

Three time Oscar winner Steven Spielberg has created some of the most powerful movies of his generation. Schindler’s List might be the finest example of his skill behind a camera. This movie won him the first of his two Best Director Academy Awards, the second coming with Saving Private Ryan. This movie would go on to win six other Oscars including Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Writing, and Best Music.

This film brought together an amazing cast including Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, and Caroline Goodall. Liam Neeson took on the title role and earned an Academy Award nomination. Also nominated was Ralph Fiennes for his portrayal of Amon Goeth, the ruthless commandant of the German concentration camps in Poland. Oscar winner Ben Kingsley was also amazing in this film, portraying the Jewish bookkeeper Itzhak Stern. Caroline Goodall also gives a good performance as Schindler’s wife throughout the war years.

As the violence in Europe gathers steam many businessmen look to profit from the war, including Oskar Schindler (Neeson). This womanizing and indulgent man looks to befriend anyone who can help him get the contracts he desires. Soon he’s running a large factory with the labor of imprisoned Jews. Later, as Hitler’s plan for the Jews becomes more evident to Schindler he begins to find himself more concerned with his workers than the profits he sought early in the war. Now as he seeks to help those who cannot help themselves he’s forced to barter with men like Amon Goeth (Fiennes), the head of the Auschwitz death camp, who see the Jews as objects. As he continues to run his business he becomes increasingly focused on saving anyone he can from death in the camps. His greatest ally is his accountant Itzhak Stern (Kingsley) who uses his skills to help Schindler bring more workers to his factory. As the final solution looms, Schindler will stop at nothing to save the people he has come to care for.

This movie brings the horrors of the Holocaust to life in startling detail. The black and white film creates a mood that adds to the sadness that accompanies the tragic events it portrays. Adding in the wonderful music of John Williams and Itzhak Perlman creates the perfect emotion for this amazing film.

The actors are all incredible in this movie. Neeson plays the ever-conflicted Schindler with a great performance that might have won him an Oscar if it wasn’t for the powerful performance of Tom Hanks in Philadelphia that same year. Fiennes took on his role and managed to create the evil and disgusting Amon Goeth with incredible skill. Oscar winner Ben Kingsley is also amazing as the quiet bookkeeper. His acting is wonderful, and brings a lot of meaning to his character. Caroline Goodall is also great as the forgiving wife of a morally conflicted man. In the end the who cast are great, and manage to recreate the events powerfully.

I don’t think this is a movie for younger viewers. The movie addresses the Holocaust head-on and doesn’t look away when things get too rough. The movie is a powerful reminder of the atrocities of World War II. Spielberg took on the subject of the Holocaust and succeeded. I give this movie 4.8 out of 5 stars.

(After the comments of other people that I respect, I’m changing my rating to 5 out of 5 stars. This is one of the great films of my time and also of all-time.)

Rating: R

Running Time: 195 minutes

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27 Comments on “Schindler’s List”

  1. Mark Hobin March 1, 2012 at 7:04 PM #

    4.8 is a great review, but I would go even higher. This film is why I reserve a perfect 5 stars for a select group of films. Absolutely one of the greatest examples of cinema ever produced.

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    • jeffro517 March 1, 2012 at 9:50 PM #

      I had a hard time giving this less than a 5. It’s truly one of the masterpieces of modern filmmaking.

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  2. Jan Niechwiadowicz March 2, 2012 at 1:50 AM #

    Can I ask the author, what movie where you watching to have seen Polish concentration camps? They were GERMAN concentration camps in the version I saw. In fact the Germans have been totally written out of the article.

    Please listen to L Cajani (Professor of modern history at the Università La Sapienza) This expression is certainly wrong and misleading, because it conflates the geographical location of the Nazi death camps with their historical perpetrators., American Jewish Committee The camps were located in German-occupied Poland, the European country with by far the largest Jewish population, but they were most emphatically not “Polish camps”, Todd Gutnick, the ADL’s director of media relations: As an agency which prioritizes remembrance of the Holocaust, we share Poland’s concerns over the frequent description of the camps as `Polish, Such a description implies that the camps were built in the name of the Polish people. This is manifestly not the truth, Byron Sherwin (Author): the Poles all but replace the Germans as the perpetrators of the Holocaust, as the archenemies of the Jews throughout the thousand-year Jewish presence in Poland and many others.

    Correct the wording, they were GERMAN concentration camps.

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    • jeffro517 March 2, 2012 at 9:28 AM #

      I’ve check my article and I didn’t once call the camps Polish. This is a movie with a sensitive subject and I’ve treated it with careful consideration. Please read more carefully before posting this type of comment.

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  3. Jim Przedzienkowski March 2, 2012 at 5:47 AM #

    The term ‘Polish concentration camps.’ is incorrect. The Nazi Germans established the ‘concentration camps’ on occupied Polish soil. The camps were not Polish as implied by the comment. Please correct the error.

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    • jeffro517 March 2, 2012 at 9:28 AM #

      I’ve check my article and I didn’t once call the camps Polish. Please read more carefully before posting this type of comment.

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  4. Victor Woldanowski March 2, 2012 at 10:40 AM #

    Perhaps you should check your own article more carefully and find the sentence, “Also nominated was Ralph Fiennes for his portrayal of Amon Goeth, the ruthless commandant of the Polish concentration camps.” Your answer to those who pointed this out is disingenuous. Please remove this insulting expression and make sure the truth be known, that such camps were set up and run by Germans

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  5. Brandon March 2, 2012 at 11:02 AM #

    Jeff, I believe Jim is referring to the sentence “Also nominated was Ralph Fiennes for his portrayal of Amon Goeth, the ruthless commandant of the Polish concentration camps.” Of course, your meaning is obvious to me – the camps were located in Poland, not run by the Polish. Perhaps you could rephrase to “commandant of the concentration camps located in Poland” so that the PC police can be satisfied….
    .
    As for the 5 star question – is there a film that you’ve given 5 stars? Perfect films are few and far between, but does 5/5 need to imply perfection?

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  6. jniech March 2, 2012 at 11:11 AM #

    This time I have to ask what article are you reading? Your article clearly states he was a “commandant of the Polish concentration camps.”

    Luigi Cajani (Professor of modern history at the Università La Sapienza, Rome): For many years Polish diplomacy has been combating the use made from time to time of the unhappy expression “Polish concentration camps” to refer to Auschwitz, Treblinka and so on. This expression is certainly wrong and misleading, because it conflates the geographical location of the Nazi death camps with their historical perpetrators.

    Violetta Cardinal (director and screenwriter of Upside Down): It shows how damaging such falsifications as “Polish concentration camps” can be, and how, if left unopposed, they “strip Poles of their self-esteem and dignity.”

    Professor Norman Davies (Author, British Historian): Despite what one often hears, there were no ‘Polish concentration camps’, and there was no collaborationist government, as in Vichy France or in Norway.

    Shana Penn (Director Media Relations United States Holocaust memorial Museum): The most common error of concern, which I will discuss further on, is the identification of Nazi concentration camps on Polish soil as being “Polish concentration camps” instead of, as they were in reality, Nazi-run camps in German-occupied Poland during World War II.

    David Peleg (The Ambassador of Israel to Warsaw, Poland): We, being Jews and Israelis, with reject resolutely terminology such as “Polish concentration camps”. These prejudicial and erroneous phrases represent primarily testimony about ignorance and lack of understanding of fundamental historical truth.
    Ontario Press Council: And in no instance should they be described as “Polish concentration camps.”

    Wall Street Journal: There were no Polish concentration camps in World War II. Auschwitz and other such camps in Polish territory were operated by German Nazis.
    Polish-Jewish Heritage Foundation of Canada (Montreal Chapter): The reference to Auschwitz or any other of those camps as a Polish concentration camp will inevitably lead your readers to erroneously conclude that a death camp was sponsored or administered by the Polish government (whereas no Polish government existed during the German occupation !) or that Polish people participated in perpetrating the Holocaust. Any such implication besmirches the memory of all those Poles who suffered so greatly under the German occupation, including the many thousands who died at the hands of the Germans in Auschwitz.

    United Nations: Poland requested the change to ensure that future generations understand it had no role in the camp established by Adolf Hitler’s forces during their brutal occupation of the country. Polish officials have complained that Auschwitz is sometimes referred to as a “Polish concentration camp,” a phrase they fear may be misleading to younger generations who may not associate the camp with Nazi Germany.

    Please correct the article. Your article should clearly states he was the “commandant of the German concentration camps.”

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    • jeffro517 March 2, 2012 at 11:27 AM #

      I’ve since made the change, but I was writing about the location of the camps.

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  7. jeffro517 March 2, 2012 at 11:18 AM #

    That was my meaning when I wrote the sentence. Apparently some people will choose to see what they need to see to police the internet for well-meaning articles that offend their sense of political correctness.

    I think I should give this movie 5 stars. I guess I have tried to stay objective and see the movie from every angle. Sometimes this gets in the way of looking at a beautiful film.

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  8. Brandon March 2, 2012 at 11:43 AM #

    All this being said, I highly, HIGHLY doubt that any person with any sense of intelligence would have read the original sentence and concluded that the Polish were running the camps. To suggest that this rather benign article would have altered the perception of history via that sentence is more than a bit hyperbolic, IMO.

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  9. Brandon March 2, 2012 at 11:48 AM #

    In regards to star ratings, there’s nothing inherently wrong with going 4.8/5. I was just curious since you seem to hesitate to give films 5/5 in general. There’s certainly room for discussion about the merits of Schindler’s List as a film, such as the heavy sentiment of the scene where Schindler leaves the factory. Don’t go 5/5 on my behalf.

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  10. jeffro517 March 2, 2012 at 11:06 PM #

    The idea of a 5/5 movie is tough for me to comprehend. I think there may be a handful of films that make the grade. In my mind they need to be near flawless in execution, normally they should be timeless, and the value of the story must exist.

    I’ve been hesitant to give the score out, but this movie deserves it more than any I’ve reviewed so far.

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