1993, Universal/Amblin. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes.
Decent Films Ratings
Content advisory: Depictions of the Holocaust; brief nudity (both non-sexual and sexual); some sexual immorality.
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Schindler’s List (DVD)
By Steven D. Greydanus
The Holocaust remains the modern world’s most enduring icon of pure evil, yet Schindler’s List dares to find in this story of depravity, horror, and moral conflict something that is "an absolute good." Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a self-aggrandizing war profiteer and womanizing adulterer, is no paragon of virtue — but his list, the list that eventually saves over a thousand Jews from extermination — "The list is life."
As he first did decades earlier with Jaws, Spielberg reaches past our defenses by suggesting rather than showing: he knows there is as much horror in a mountain of shoes and personal effects whose owners won’t be needing them again as in a mountain of bodies. In fact, one of the film’s most ghastly moments is nothing more than a mere rude gesture from a small child.
Spielberg makes us feel the collapsing expectations of people much like ourselves: middle-class Krakow families initially appalled at the indignity and inconvenience of being herded into ghetto apartments — only to discover that each apartment must be shared with numerous others. In a film that is mostly black and white, small touches of color — a candle flame; a child’s coat, bright red — bring the enormity of the tragedy into excruciating focus.