20th Anniversary Limited Edition, Limited Edition
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Experience one of the most historically significant films of all time like never before with Steven Spielberg’s cinematic masterpiece, Schindler’s List. Winner of seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, this incredible true story follows the enigmatic Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust. It is the triumph of one man who made a difference and the drama of those who survived one of the darkest chapters in human history because of what he did. Meticulously restored from the original film negative and supervised by Steven Spielberg, Schindler’s List is a powerful story whose lessons of courage and faith continue to inspire generations.
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Top Customer Reviews
I've seen the DVD version, and was floored by the quality of the Blu-Ray. Black and white/contrast is phenomenally good, details and sharpness are top-notch, film grain is excellent, and sound quality is clear, crisp, and distinct - especially with hushed and background tones... the restoration is truly spectacular.
The Blu-Ray, as a 20th anniversary edition, the time and care put into it does make it a must-have.
And, obviously, the drama, cinematography, moral of the story, the pain and extortion, the murder of innocent people -- NEVER FORGET.
This movie is an absolute masterpiece, in terms of storytelling, acting, writing... the only sad part is that it's based on real life events... And life shouldn't have to be so horrific... why do people treat each other so badly...
This movie, despite being in black and white, does not give a black and white account of the Holocaust. It is not a story of one side being good and the other being evil. Rather, every major character, whether a Nazi or a Jew, is made three-dimensional and realistic by their ability to have more than one role to play. Schindler, as we see throughout the film, is a businessman first and a savior second. He stays in the Nazi party’s good graces in order to further his economic aims, and he is not above bribing people to achieve his goals, but in the process he manages to save over a thousand Jews. Amon Goeth, who clearly deserves the punishment he received at the end of the film, was not portrayed as the stereotypical evil German. He did terrible things and was unjustifiably violent, but he also had his own struggles. Even Itzhak Stern, who forges documents to employ Jews who would otherwise be deemed “nonessential,” is as much an opportunist as Schindler. The film seeks to show the humanity of these characters rather than making them into stock characters. It is all well and good to read about the Holocaust in a textbook, to see the statistics of how many people were killed, or to read about the atrocities committed by Nazis, but it is more engaging and far more effecting in conveying a message to see it acted out in such a striking way.
This movie is well worth its three hours. It is painful to watch, but it is far better to feel pain than indifference. Schindler himself reminds one of Rick from Casablanca, with his general suave attitude and appearance of total control. He moves among the richest and finest company and, despite being married, has affairs with several women quite nonchalantly. The classiness and charm of Schindler’s life is contrasted by the chaos and fear of the Jewish experience. There is hardly any calmness in the scenes that involve Jewish interactions with Nazis. There is always the fear of being separated from one’s family, of being deemed not capable of working, or simply of being shot without mercy. This film also has a striking way of using music to portray Nazi control over Jews. Scenes where records or pianos are played are usually scenes where people are being sorted or killed, such as the scene in which the Nazi plays the piano while the ghetto is being sacked.
Aside from its historical accuracy and it being based on a true story, the way the characters are humanized makes the story an accurate portrayal of the Holocaust. It is not sad or dramatic simply for the sake of being sad and dramatic. The intent of this film is not to entertain, but to tell a horrible story that needs to be told.
From the wide angle view, the movie is about the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto in 1943 and the appalling conditions the Jews (those who had not been capriciously murdered during the course of the liquidation, of course) had to suffer under in forced labor camps like Plaszow, such places being waystations for later removal to death camps like Auschwitz as the Germans started to irretrievably lose the war. The drama of this particular aspect of the Holocaust comes from the efforts of a German businessman and war profiteer named Oskar Schindler to save as many people as he could by having them work in his factories, where they received humane treatment and protection from the murderous whimsies of the Nazi thugs who ran the labor camps. Ultimately, as the war approached its end, Schindler literally bought over 1100 Jews from the Plaszow commandant Amon Goeth, diverting them from Auschwitz to another of his factories in Czechoslovakia, where they spent the last months of the war churning out mis-calibrated shell casings and the like. Stanley Kubrick, commenting on Spielberg's film, said, "Think that's about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn't it? The Holocaust is about 6 million people who get killed. Schindler's List is about 600 who don't."
And that's about the only real criticism one can make of this Holocaust movie, though goodness knows many have tried, particularly among academia and among (mostly European) filmmakers. The academics have complained about the literal physical height of Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes (Good vs. Evil respectively), which to them turned the movie into a titanic struggle between two opposing forces while the Jews themselves, the subjects of the battle, were physically short and sort of scurried around between their legs, or something. Others complained that there wasn't enough rape in the movie. Okay. Meanwhile, some directors have made some pretty stupid comments, mostly arising, I fear, from sheer jealousy, as is definitely the case with Claude Lanzmann who directed the 9-hour documentary "Shoah" back in the 80s. Listen to these sour grapes from Lanzmann: "I sincerely thought that there was a time before Shoah, and a time after Shoah, and that after Shoah certain things could no longer be done. Spielberg did them anyway." What "certain things", one wonders? Sheesh. Jean-Luc Godard, meanwhile, accused the producers of getting rich on the movie while Schindler's widow was starving to death in Argentina -- a false accusation, as it turned out. My favorite though, was from Michael Haneke, an otherwise good director who should've kept his mouth shut: "There's a scene in that film when we don't know if there's gas or water coming out in the showers in the camp. You can only do something like that with a naive audience like in the United States. It's not an appropriate use of the form. Spielberg meant well – but it was dumb." No, I'll tell you what's dumb: an Austrian filmmaker daring to comment on the naivete of United States audiences while his countrymen cheered on their annexation by Germany and the murderous strain of anti-Semitism that followed and indeed swept through Europe in the 30s and 40s. Haneke's comment is repugnant. And by the way, that shower scene is the most frightening, most appalling thing I've ever seen in a movie. When I saw it in theaters 20 years ago, I cried out in anguish when the lights in the shower-room suddenly went out. And I wasn't the only one. Spielberg brought home the terror to us in a visceral way. For 2 or 3 seconds, we could -- almost -- comprehend the Holocaust.
All in all, Spielberg made the right decisions, as far as I'm concerned: shooting the film in black and white, imposing a cinema-verite style using handheld cameras for about half of the shooting, using not-very-well-known actors to play the 3 principal parts. Can you imagine Kevin Costner as Schindler? Well, Costner had expressed interest. Thank God we have Liam Neeson in the role -- I think his performance has been put in the shade a bit by Ralph Fiennes' flashier performance as the psychopathic commandant Goeth. But the performance that stuck with me on this viewing was Ben Kingsley's Itzhak Stern, who, as Schindler himself admits near the end, is the real hero of the story. The character, by the way, is a composite of Stern, a banker, and Goeth's personal secretary, but it's all the more a testament to the screenwriter's art and a great actor's skill that Stern feels so real to us. Watch Kingsley as he sees the women and girls finally arrive to Schindler's arms factory after their terrifying detour to Auschwitz. He looks out the window, watching their arrival, then slowly walks back to his desk and tries to go back to work. We only see him from the rear, but Kingsley somehow makes us see how shattered he is from relief; the worry seems to slowly drift off his back.
As for my own criticisms, they're pretty nitpicky, though hopefully not as repugnant as the sniping of Spielberg's colleagues: under the old Show-Don't-Tell rule, I think I would have omitted the whole scene where Goeth's Jewish kitchen-maid describes to Schindler Life With A Psychopath, a scene made superfluous when we see Goeth and the maid together in a follow-up scene that conveys the entirety of Embeth Davidtz' prior monologue. I'm also not sure that the whole sequence of Goeth Being Nice For A Day really works -- here's where the screenplay seems most writerish as it tries to shoehorn an idea of inner conflict into the proceedings when ultimately there was really no need to do so. But, look: nothing in life has any business being perfect, not even this masterpiece, which has done so much to help audiences worldwide -- not just in "naive" America -- get a general understanding of what the Holocaust was about.
5 out of 5. Highest recommendation. It's an old film now, technically an "antique". If you've never seen it, see it.
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