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Schindler's List - Film Review

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Published September 29th 2013


Quite possibly one of the most moving films ever made, certainly a personal favourite of mine and an eye-opener for many, Schindler's List ranks among Hollywood's greatest achievements.

To capture the horror of the Holocaust: the single worst thing to have happened in recent human history is no easy feat. Spielberg prevails, reminding us why his directing holds such influence and weight over the Western world.

The real plus for Spielberg is having adapted a true story of this period to add an extra dimension of authenticity to the finished product. Oskar Schindler (played with aplomb by the great Liam Neeson) was a real ethnic German businessman, and hero to many holocaust survivors. By employing the Polish Jews to work in his factories he saved the lives of more than a thousand people. Ralph Fiennes plays an excellently unhinged SS officer Amon Goth and Ben Kingsley plays Schindler's Jewish accountant and moral compass Itzhak Stern. All real people who lived in the situations depicted (minus dramatic licence of course).

The noir effect was a brilliantly realised piece of cinematography, in that you can almost forget you are watching a film, and is in key with a majority of surviving footage from around that time, very little existed in colour - and around half of that footage had been coloursied after it had been taken. It adds to the grit and devastation which really does look like it belongs to the WWII documentaries we all would have viewed extensively in our school days and possibly in the years since. It adds a timelessness to the footage, in that viewing the film twenty years after it was made, it does not look like a product of the nineties, it is a film which could have been made at any time after the 1940's.

In this predominantly black and white film there are a few instances of colour, most notably "the girl in red". A small toddler, she is seen throughout the film distinguished by her red coat. Although not a speaking part, her presence holds great weight and seriousness of the terrible events that occurred. She is a symbol of the innocence that was being harvested by the Nazis. Her corpse is later seen in a pile of dead Jews, I dare anyone not to feel a pang of sadness upon seeing this scene.

A truly amazing piece of work that you can walk away from feeling just that little bit more appalled that such atrociousness, such inhumane and disgusting acts as those that happened in Krakow, Poland could even take place. In that sense, it is a film that gives the viewer perspective and context on the barbarism of ethnic cleansing. Oh where did so many people go wrong. Especially at that last scene with Holocaust survivors walking alongside the actors portraying them in the film, each paying their respects to the man's grave, you will walk away in awe of the unsung hero: Oskar Schindler.
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