Schindler's List (1993)
July 20, 2022 7:04 PM - Subscribe

Businessman Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) arrives in Krakow in 1939, ready to make his fortune from World War II, which has just started. After joining the Nazi party primarily for political expediency, he staffs his factory with Jewish workers for similarly pragmatic reasons. When the SS begins exterminating Jews in the Krakow ghetto, Schindler arranges to have his workers protected to keep his factory in operation, but soon realizes that in so doing, he is also saving innocent lives.

Also starring Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagall, and Embeth Davidtz. Written by Steven Zaillian. Directed by Steven Spielberg.

Rated 98% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Starz and available for digital rental on multiple outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (14 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I rarely cry at movies, strangely. Not even E.T., which everyone says made them cry. From me, nothing.

I didn't cry the first time I saw this. My then-boyfriend and I walked out in a sort of numb silence, and then in the taxi on the way home we started nit-picking some of the little corny things Spielberg put in for a moment of comedy. I think that was the only way we could process it.

But then years later, I was channel-surfing at home late at night, and stumbled upon Schindler's List about midway through, and started watching, thinking "oh yeah, Liam Neeson was so good in this." And at the end, when it got to the bit where all the people Schindler saved lined up to place stones on his grave, accompanied by the actors who played them...I started bawling. Like, full-on ugly-crying.

It is the only time a film has made me do that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:21 AM on July 21, 2022 [8 favorites]

I read the book on which it's based, and learned that the depiction of Nazi commandant Amon Goeth was toned down for the movie. Also, some of the things that seemed thrown in for dramatic effect, like Schindler's breakdown over the people he couldn't save, really happened.

If memory serves me correctly, one of the biggest liberties the film took with real life is Schindler's eventual promising his wife to stop having extramarital affairs.
posted by Gelatin at 5:41 AM on July 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

Oh, and according to the book, the girl in the red coat actually survived the war.
posted by Gelatin at 6:01 AM on July 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

There's an anecdote I read at the time about filming the scene set in Auschwitz when Schindler goes to save the women and children who were accidentally sent there. Everyone was glum while there - understandably so - but Liam Neeson was also fighting off a cold and may also have been slightly hung over, so he was a little more caught up in his own woes. And during a break, someone on the location staff started chatting with him - I want to say it was an assistant director or something, someone based in Poland who had been in the film business for a while. They chatted a little bit about how everyone was doing that day and how everyone seemed a little dour. Neeson admitted he was a little under the weather, but then added that "there's also just something about this place, you know?" The other guy agreed. "Yeah, it's just creepy," Neeson said. "Have you ever been in a place like this before?"

The other guy gave him a look - and then silently rolled up his sleeve to show off the tattooed number from the concentration camp he'd been in himself.

Liam Neeson was a looooooooooot less self-pitying about his cold when he saw that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:16 AM on July 21, 2022 [13 favorites]

Oh, I've just read this piece on the anniversary of the film, which actually expands on my tale a bit - it was Producer Branko Lustig who spoke with Neeson, and at one point he pointed to one of the buildings in Auschwitz and said “See that hut there? That was the hut I was in.”

That article also discusses something Robin Williams did - while they were filming, once a week Robin Williams would call Spielberg and tell jokes for 15 minutes to keep his spirits up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:55 AM on July 21, 2022 [6 favorites]

I hated that Spielberg colorized that little girls coat because every time she appeared it broke my suspension of disbelief and pulled me right out of the movie. Other then that, a great film.
posted by hoodrich at 12:33 PM on July 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

I think it's brilliant, personally. He absolutely forced you to look past the masses and follow and empathize with and worry about one particular otherwise anonymous person.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:42 PM on July 21, 2022 [6 favorites]

And then made sure the viewer picks this one individual out from among a mound of unidentified corpses.
posted by Gelatin at 12:53 PM on July 21, 2022

Gelatin, the girl in the red coat was real?

I alway thought she came from "Poland" by James A. Mitchener. She broke me in the book more than in the film.
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 1:00 PM on July 21, 2022

It's been a while since I've read the book, but as I recall she does appear in the book (called Schindler's Ark, and itself the product of Poldek Pfefferberg's determined campaign to tell Schindler's story), and I believe she is mentioned as having survived the war. Possibly even by having been one of the Schindlerjuden.
posted by Gelatin at 1:07 PM on July 21, 2022

Definitely in the category of “incredible films I will absolutely never watch again.” I’ve seen it twice (once at 11 in the theatre and once at 18 at home with a boyfriend). I’ve had the dvd for 20+ years and I’ve never opened it and doubt I ever will. I remember in the theatre needing to use the restroom and feeling absolutely paralyzed, having to really work myself up to stand and walk.
posted by obfuscation at 5:32 AM on July 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

"Schindler's List" is the centerpiece of a cycle of films my brother and I came up with a while ago:

"Fiddler on the Roof" (1971)
"Conspiracy" (2001)
"Anne Frank: The Whole Story" (2001)
"Schindler's List" (1993)
"Downfall" (2004)
"Exodus" (1960)

It's hard to look at. But never forget. And never again.
posted by Stuka at 4:38 PM on July 23, 2022 [1 favorite]

I think it's brilliant, personally. He absolutely forced you to look past the masses and follow and empathize with and worry about one particular otherwise anonymous person.

There's a Primo Levi quote on the wall in Anne Frank House in Amsterdam that's somewhat relevant here.

"One single Anne Frank moves us more than the countless others who suffered just as she did but whose faces have remained in the shadows. Perhaps it is better that way; if we were capable of taking in all the suffering of all those people, we would not be able to live."

The focus on one person can actually allow the comprehension of the horror as a whole.
posted by knapah at 1:24 AM on July 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

Working my way through IMDB top 250, and this is at the top of the "been avoiding this" list as you know exactly how depressing it's gonna be. Though for some reason, being quite young at the time this film came out, I had imagined his rescue plan involving shipping people out of Europe on boats, rather than arguing child labor was key to manufacturing Nazi artillery shells.

Wikipedia research on Schindler reveals he claims to be out millions but... they were in Reichmarks which had inflated by the end of the war, and presumably the dude owed a ton of people backwages.

I hated that Spielberg colorized that little girls coat because every time she appeared it broke my suspension of disbelief and pulled me right out of the movie.

I mean, it's kind of an artifice to show historic events in black and white at all. It's a crutch for "this is the past" in a way that distances itself from the present, almost minimizing fears that this could happen again. Today even.

Good news is Across the Spider-verse is next. Will have to watch the prequel first though. But after that is... The Pianist.
posted by pwnguin at 12:54 AM on July 19, 2023

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