“Schindler’s List” is a Steven Spielberg cinematic masterpiece that was initially released in 1993. Liam Neeson stars in the title role. Ben Kingsley was cast as Itzhak Stern, who assisted Oskar Schindler in his efforts to save the lives of Jews who were targeted by the Holocaust during the World war II. Ralph Fiennes plays the brutal SS commandant Amon Goth who was quite the enthusiast when it came to killing Jews.
There is not a single bad note in any of the performances. Fiennes plays a truly loathsome creature who manages to convey some complexity to his cruelty. There is nothing to make Goth really sympathetic, but he was certainly played with more depth than I have seen in many other Nazi roles in various films about this era. Neeson certainly delivers in his role as well. Schindler comes off as quite the party animal and womanizer, however that hides a certain craftiness that is exhibited when he really commits to aiding those Jewish refugees he can reach by having them work in his factory where they are protected from the brutal attention of the SS. Kingsley excels in his role as well, but he usually puts forth a compelling performance.
There really is not much about this film that falls short of being amazing. I did find the end to be a little more protracted than was necessary, but the very end where cast members and real life survivors who were rescued by Schindler’s efforts paid tribute to him at his gravesite was quite moving.
It is very easy to see how this film was a labor of love without having to hear Spielberg’s explanation. It’s a hard film to say that one enjoys seeing considering the subject matter and the brutality depicted, however it is not hard to express appreciation for the presentation of a painful yet important part of world history. There is no perfect way to describe or discuss the horrors of the Holocaust since our language can seem so inadequate. Spielberg seems to strike a perfect balance between displaying that horror yet not quite going so far as to make it unwatchable. Of course, I have a stronger stomach than most people.
The movie manages to be strangely heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. It took me twenty-five years to sit through this film. No question that it’s a long one, however the critical acclaim from professional critics and friends who encouraged me to see it were absolutely right. Although I have no real reason to have taken this long to see it, I am glad to have finally taken the time.