It became a commonplace to talk of 1993 as Spielberg’s annus mirablis – that year spawned the monster hit ‘Jurassic Park’ – and also ‘Schindler’s List’ , as his ‘Bar Mitzvah movie’, the masterpice that signalled his emergence as an emotionally adult filmmaker.
Businessman Oskar Schindler arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune at the beginning of World War II by moving to Nazi-occupied Poland to open a factory and employ Jews at starvation wages. His goal was to become a millionaire. When the SS begins exterminating Jews in the Krakow ghetto, Schindler arranges to have his workers protected to keep his factory in operation, but soon realizes that in so doing, he is also saving innocent lives.
A movie about World War II, a movie trying to unravel the abject horror of the Holocaust while also blending the act of tender humanism to create a visually powerful experience. So, how do you go ahead for this challenge ?
Firstly, a well-made decision of choosing black and white style, giving the experience of travelling back to the past, preventing deterioration of attention of audience’s minds. Only 3 instances of usage of color in the movie, creates a point of empathy and connection for the audience which is far more powerful and emotionally impactful than any other medium.
The monochromatic cinematography is one thing, but when you suddenly realize there’s a girl with red cape breaking the color rule walks by, you know that this will make a great impact.
As the glossy, voluptuous look of Oskar’s sequences gives way to a stark documentary-style account of the Jews’ experience, “Schindler’s List” witnesses a pivotal transformation. Oskar and a girlfriend, on horseback, watch from a hilltop as the ghetto is evacuated, and the image of a little girl in red seems to crystallize Oskar’s horror.
With a stellar cast of Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley at his disposal, Schindler’s List nailed character introduction. Classy, effective, exposition-free.
Spielberg cleverly juxtaposed the two main characters, Amon Göth and Schindler, as two sides of the same coin. They both love the finer things in life, easily swayed by money and women. Playing on this, Schindler tries to show his contemporary that power can be better served by sparing people’s lives rather than taking them. It is an idea that even Goeth acknowledges, but was destined not to adhere to for long.
Speaking of which, when survivor Mila Pfefferberg was introduced to Ralph Fiennes on the set, she began shaking uncontrollably, as he reminded her too much of the real Amon Göth !!
Although, the very notion of a holocaust movie with a blonde Nazi as the central protagonist, and 1,100 survivors taking centre stage when six million perished, is bound to spark furious debate. Making a defining movie about the Holocaust a hero story about a Nazi instead of a film depicting the dehumanization and suffering is, of course, a big challenge.
But, rising brilliantly to the challenge of this material and displaying an electrifying creative intelligence, Mr. Spielberg has made sure that neither he nor the Holocaust will ever be thought of in the same way again. This is the film with which Spielberg ceases to be the supreme entertainer and tries for another, tougher kind of glory.
In short, Schindler’s List is a necessary holocaust movie made for a global audience…