World War II was a time in which many people experienced destruction and depression. Throughout the world there was killing and the unforgettable deeds done by a man named Adolf Hitler. Schindler’s List is a movie in which portrays one man’s influence on the war and his actually influence on saving the lives of so many Jews. This paper looks to discuss World War II briefly so there is a better understanding of the war but also a detailed look at the movie of Schindler’s List. Oscar Schindler is the main character in the movie that was mainly pursuing the work of the Jews for his own personal gain in his factories, which later came about saving hundreds of Jewish lives. This paper will provide a brief discussion of the War in general, then discuss the movie further, and then it will finalize by discussing different aspects of the movie including critiques and other forms of the story. Throughout this paper you should gain a better understanding of not only the portrayal of World War II in movie form but also the influence of the movie in general.
World War II is known, obviously, for the fact it was a war that involved a majority of the world. The Ally and the Axis Powers battled it out in an effort to mainly stop the undeniable destruction of one man and his ideals. This man was Adolf Hitler. When Hitler came into power Germany was still in a depressed state following the repercussions and punishments set upon them after the First World War Because of this, the German people were looking for a change, and one that would come in the form of a new and charismatic leader. Throughout his campaign to the political office of Germany Hitler became known as an extremely well-spoken man who would be able to gain support and a following without even thinking twice. Throughout his rise to power it was not immediately evident that he had an ulterior motive to his campaign, and that was creating what he referred to as the Aryan race. Through his plan Hitler had an idea that the Jewish population was tainting and ruining his Aryan race. Because of this Hitler administered numerous ways to not only detain Jews but also ways to kill and murder innocent people simply because they were Jewish.
Schindler’s List is a movie that attempts to show World War II without directly looking through the eyes of the persecuted Jew. They portrayed the entire movie through the role of a businessman by the name of Oscar Schindler. Mr. Schindler was attempting to hire Jews to help him with his factory work as, many times; they were the cheapest and easiest form of labor to obtain and to maintain. Throughout the movie there continues to be workers who are coming up to Mr. Schindler in order to get family and friends added to the list. The reasoning for this is because Jews that were employed were not able to be shipped to concentration camps, or sometimes even death camps. By employing the Jews Oscar Schindler was actually helping to save their lives. Throughout the movie there appears to be a struggle within Mr. Schindler that shows itself through multiple interactions with Jews and those who were suppressing them, but later he realizes that what he does with his factory truly does make a difference in so many people’s lives and he decides to help the best that he can. The entire movie shows the struggle and the pain of the Jewish community throughout the war and how they were forced to work in conditions that were unbearable.
Schindler’s List actually started as a book that was later turned into a movie. The reasoning behind this is because of the impact the book had on society and how it showed the growth and transformation of the human soul. Throughout both the book and the movie there is a display of growth and concern by the main character Oscar Schindler. He represents this by his understanding of his impact on the Jewish community as he continues to expand his operation and show care and compassion for the workers that he brings in. Throughout the book it is obvious that it is a growing opportunity for Mr. Schindler that he shows leads him on the path of saving hundreds of lives.
The character of Oscar Schindler is one that is not expected when you first hear the idea of the movie. Before watching the film I was under the belief that Oscar would have been a frail man who was simply in business of making money. I also envisioned him as being cold and heartless as the countless numbers of saved lives melt his heart and warm him up to the fact that he was actually helping a mass amount of people. This was not the case. Mr. Schindler was seen as a gentleman to a lot of people throughout the movie and he was always the center of attention when he walked into a room. Physically he had a great stature that demanded attention whenever he walked through the door. He was amazing at talking to people and usually would get what he wanted by either intimidation or by talking his way into or out of any situation. The portrayal of Oscar Schindler was not what I expected, but it was one that fit the role well. His book keeper, who was Jewish, was also played by a man who was well fit for the role. He was someone that was grateful towards Schindler for all the opportunities that he presented as well as the job that kept him, for the majority of the time, out of harm’s way. The fictional characters that were displayed in the movie were great in regards to their representation in the book. This great representation allowed for a movie experience that went along with the book and made sure that the excitement and the heartfelt emotions of the book translated to the movie.
The Holocaust and World War II was filled with images that many historians and directors have been trying to recreate for years. Throughout Schindler’s List there is many of these scenes that are made in an attempt to recreate the struggle and the agony of the people who were forced to experience it. The movie did an incredible job at showing the pain and the emotion behind many of the scenes. They portrayed work camps as what one would imagine and the scenes where families were torn apart as impossible to imagine and difficult. The movie did great at not only representing the characters well but also bringing to life many of the scenes that the book attempted to portray with emotion. The scenes and the characters are obviously two of the main components of both the movie and the book, but also the conversations that were had in both were extremely emotional. Schindler even says at one time, “Whoever saves on life, saves the world entire” (Schindler’s List). This is the essence of the movie, showing that he did have a purpose in regards to signing people up to help him in his factories. He knew what he was doing was saving lives and he was not afraid to do so.
There are multiple reviews of the movie including known critics such as Roger Ebert and the New York Times. Roger Ebert describes the movie as a great one and gives it a rating of 4 stars. He ends his article with a description of the movie and stated very simple that, “The film’s ending brings me to tears” (Ebert). This is true amongst multiple reviews of the movie stating that the emotions and raw portrayal of the sadness of the movie pulled at the heartstrings of the viewer. There is a lengthy discussion of the choice of actors for the movie in comparison to their description in the book throughout the New York Times review. A portion of the review supports what was stated earlier in the paper, “Oskar Schindler, played with mesmerizing authority by Liam Neeson, is unmistakably larger than life, with the panache of an old-time movie star” (Maslin). This is true, throughout the movie you are entranced and intrigued by the presence of Schindler as he continues to grow more and more into a figure of admiration throughout the plot.
There is not much discussion strictly in Jewish publication that refers to Schindler’s List. At least, there is nothing different. There are basic reviews of the movie and a similar discussion to all other reviews about how it was extremely heartfelt and really tugged at the emotions of the viewers. There is also no well-known documentary or video on the making of the movie. This would actually peak my interest extremely if one were to be made as there were many things that intrigued me such as the actor selection and the recreation of the many emotional scenes that were discussed earlier in the paper.
Cinema has been known to do amazing things when it comes to emotions and intrigue and the movie Schindler’s List is no different. Throughout the entire movie the viewer, including myself, feels as if they are experiencing and witnessing both the horrors and the emotions of the characters. This experience is not limited to the main character Oscar Schindler but also to all the other actors and actresses who had such a difficult role in recreating one of the most devastating times in the history of man. World War II was a time that has been made into film many times, in particular the Holocaust. Schindler’s List does not focus on the horrid acts of the Holocaust as much as it does the actual story of Oscar Schindler and how his kindness and intelligence saved the lives of so many Jews. It is a film that is highly praised throughout the film community, including well-known critics such as Roger Ebert and the New York Times. I would deliver the same praise as well.
Maslin, Janet. "Schindler's List (1993) Review." New York Times. New York Times, 15 Dec. 1993. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
Schindler's List. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Prod. Steven Spielberg. By Steven Zaillian. Perf. Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, and Ralph Fiennes. Universal Pictures, 1993. DVD.
"Schindler's List Movie Review (1993) | Roger Ebert." All Content. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.