“Schindler’s List” Heads Back Into Theaters For 25th Anniversary
This week marks the 25th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust biopic, Schindler’s List, starring Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and Ralph Fiennes. The film is widely acclaimed to be the greatest film ever made by Spielberg and swept the Oscar’s in 1994, winning a record breaking seven Academy Awards.
Schindler’s List tells the true story of German businessman Oskar Schindler who is known for saving the lives of 1,200 Jews by employing them at his factories during the Holocaust. The film is a three hour progression that takes the audience through the experience of the Jewish people of Krakow, Poland during World War II and the transformation of Schindler from a profit-obsessed entrepreneur to the savior of generations of Jewish peoples.
Steven Spielberg begins the special anniversary-edition of his film with a monologue about the impact of Schindler’s List over the past years and makes it clear that, although the film is graphic and highlights the tragedy and darkest actions of humans, it is a film about hope.
Spielberg continues to say that above all other messages that we, the audience, may derive from the film it is most important that we understand the light in the darkness. The director claims that he never intended for this film to be the smash hit it was and remains humbled by the impact it has had on survivors and the generations of people born after the Holocaust. In many ways, this film opened the eyes of the world to the reality of the Holocaust and the everlasting impact it will have on the Jewish community.
The film opens beautifully in color and focuses on a Jewish family preparing for the sabbath. As the family sings, the two lit candles melt until they are snuffed out by inaction and the film plunges into black and white. The only reprieve from this dreadful landscape is not meant to relieve the audience but to draw attention to the true horror of the movie; a little girl crosses the screen in a red coat, a symbol of America’s inaction during the Second World War that is now inseparable from the film’s legacy.
Later, as the Nazi’s are burning the corpses of Jewish individuals in order to make space for more camps, the little girl reappears, dead, before being tossed into the flames. This image marks the final shift in Oskar Schindler and he becomes dedicated to saving as many people as possible, no matter the cost.
Truly the purest and perhaps the most moving moment in the film is epilogue. As their names flash upon the screen, the surviving individuals who were saved from imminent death by Oskar Schindler, known as the Schindlerjuden, place rocks on the grave of the real Oskar Schindler to honor him. In the ultimate conclusion of the film, the audience is told that there are barely 4,000 Jews left in Poland but that there are over 6,000 descendants from the Schindler Jews alone.
Schindler’s List is now on Netflix and playing at a theater near you.