"If it weren't for the inventor of TV, we would now be eating
Free after Johnny Carson
SOME COMMENTS ON "SCHINDLER'S LIST"
by Richard Karsmakers
No doubt the most impressive film this side of "Jurassic Park",
though quite, quite different, is another Spielberg product,
"Schindler's List". Co-written with a holocaust survivor (Steven
Zaillian?) it depicts an utterly realistic picture of the way the
Jews were first huddled together in ghettos, later to be
transported to ruthless labour/extermination camps.
The film, which takes 3 hours all in all, tells the story of
rich German industrialist Oscar Schindler. In the beginning of
the film he is just an opportunist, really, seeing Jews as cheap
and easy labour force. As the plot develops he shows soft spots
and is shown to become friendlier towards these people. The
climax, of course, is where he saves hundreds of Jews from
certain death in the gas chamber by employing them in his
relatively safe factory. As the news of liberation arrives, they
are set free. They may have lost many family members but at least
they are still alive.
I don't know why, but the film I guess strikes every viewer as a
horribly realistic one. It might be because it's filmed in black-
and-white. It might be because of the Germans' cruelty. It might
be because of several other, more subtle factors. And it is, atop
everything, horribly so. The Krakau Ghetto Massacre makes the
viewer's throat clog, and the appearance of some children who get
shot or maltreated tells us Spielberg knows how to get an
audience to its knees. Similarly, he also supplies some of the
Germans with pretty flatly bad characters, which are very easy to
hate. But these are a few cinematographic conveniences with which
emotions are set alight, serving the better purpose of giving
today's generation some insight into the horrors of the
holocaust, and making sure they will strive hard never to make it
happen another time.
At the end, where the actors accompany their original characters
(so far as they are still alive) to put stones on the real Oscar
Schindler's grave somewhere in Israel, there were people around
me crying, and I also felt my eyes go all wet. This is a film you
definitely have to see in a cinema - the atmosphere is much
better, and you can follow the flow of the film when you hear the
hushes silence in which you can literally hear a needle drop,
alternated with gasps of horror and, near the end, the dripping
of a few tears.
Out of respect the entire audience watching the film remained
seated until the very last of the Jews' gravestones in the outro
had passed out of sight. Amazing.
That evening I learned two things.
I surely would not have liked to be a holocaust survivor in that
film theatre. And I'll never tell another Jew joke.
When I saw how Spielberg had dedicated his film to the survivors
of the holocaust, I knew this issue of ST NEWS had to be
dedicated to him - and, through him, to those survivors too.
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