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Schindler's List Movie Review

film steven spielberg awards

1993 – Steven Spielberg –

Hailed as one of the best pictures of the year and winner of multiple Oscars, Spielberg's heart-wrenching adaptation of the book by Thomas Keneally is also one of the successful director's best films, a powerful drama with a depth of artistry on every level that serves the tragic subject matter well. Other films about the Holocaust have done an excellent, effective job in depicting the horror of the Nazi attempt at genocide, but Schindler's List stands on its own as a rich blending of visual film art with a stirring, often disturbing tale of suffering and loss, evil at its worst, and unexpected heroism. Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, the film tells of a man (Liam Neeson) who pursues wealth and prominence, employing hundreds of Jews in his enamel-ware factory because their labor costs him virtually nothing—until, moved by the horrors committed by the Nazis, his quest finally turns from making money to saving lives.

Spielberg's use of black-and-white photography casts a grim, cold shadow over the horrible events and heightens the realism of it all. The one use of color outside of the bracketing opening shot and ending sequence is of a little girl's red coat that becomes a visual symbol of the innocent humanity falling victim to the merciless, malicious evil of the Nazis. Also, since the actual photographs and footage we've all seen from the era are in black and white, the absence of color tends to give the film a documentary look, as if all those grim photographs have come to life. The evocativeness and potential artistry of black-and-white also allows Spielberg to create hauntingly composed scenes with meaningful shadows and shafts of light that would not be possible in color.

Although the film stirs the emotions through its graphic depiction of the violence and brutality of the Holocaust, one of the most significant elements of the film is the moral development of Oskar Schindler. Initially, Schindler is not likable and far from a hero. He is a greedy man, a womanizer, and a self-serving schemer. Though Schindler initially uses Jewish workers to increse profits, the humanity somewhere within him is deeply moved as he comes face to face with the harsh reality of their treatment. This confrontation with darkness prompts him to take action. In the end, he ultimately sacrifices all his earnings to save his factory workers, and the final scene in which he mourns not having saved more lives is one of the most touching and humanly personal moments of the film. Schindler's heroism and humanity have finally emerged, making this flawed man an unlikely hero.

Cast: Liam Neeson (Oskar Schindler), Ben Kingsley (Itzhak Stern), Ralph Fiennes (Amon Goeth), Caroline Goodall (Emilie Schindler), Jonathan Sagalle (Poldek Pfefferberg), Embeth Davidtz (Helen Hirsch), Malgoscha Gebel (Victoria Klonowska), Shmulik Levy (Wilek Chilowicz), Mark Ivanir (Marcel Goldberg), Beatrice Macola (Ingrid), Andrzej Seweryn (Julian Scherner), Friedrich von Thun (Rolf Czurda), Krysztof Luft (Herman Toffel), Harry Nehring (Leo John), Norbert Weisser (Albert Hujar) Screenwriter: Steven Zaillian Cinematographer: Janusz Kaminski Composer: John Williams Producer: Branko Lustig, Gerald R. Molen, and Steven Spielberg for Ambin; released by Universal MPAA Rating: R Running Time: 197 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1993: Art Direction/Set Decoration, Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), Director (Steven Spielberg), Film Editing, Original Score (John Williams), Picture, Adapted Screenplay (Steven Zaillian); Nominations: Actor (Liam Neeson), Costume Design, Makeup, Sound, Supporting Actor (Ralph Fiennes); Directors Guild of America Awards, 1993: Director (Steven Spielberg); Golden Globe Awards, 1994: Director (Steven Spielberg), Film—Drama, Screenplay (Steven Zaillian); Nominations: Actor—Drama (Liam Neeson), Supporting Actor (Ralph Fiennes), Original Score (John Williams); Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, 1993: Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), Film; National Board of Review Awards, 1993: Film; New York Film Critics Awards 1993: Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), Film, Supporting Actor (Ralph Fiennes); National Society of Film Critics Awards, 1993: Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski), Director (Steven Spielberg), Film, Supporting Actor (Ralph Fiennes); Writers Guild of America, 1993: Adapted Screenplay (Steven Zaillian) Budget: $25M Box Office: $96.1M (domestic gross).

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