A fascinating film on all levels, Schindler’s List still connects almost 30 years after its initial release. It deserves to continue to be viewed not just as an important cinematic achievement, but also a valuable document in history.
Some argue that Steven Spielberg plays into his tendency for sentimentality, but Schindler’s List is a film that needs heart and emotion. If you can’t attempt to offer some light at the darkest moments of humanity, then why even show it in the first place? Spielberg’s career would never be the same after Schindler’s List. He might have followed it up with Jurassic Park: The Lost World, but you can tell his heart wasn’t in making soulless crowd-pleasing fare. He would continue to have hits but there was a darker shade to his work, where even his blockbusters like Minority Report and War Of The Words would teeter into darker themes.
Schindler’s List scores exceptionally high in the performance stakes. Liam Neeson headlines the film with a quiet gravitas in his role as Oskar Schindler, the factory owner who sees a way of saving Jewish lives during the holocaust. Ben Kingsley delivers as Schindler’s right-hand-man Itzhak Stern and Ralph Fiennes is exceptional in the complex role of as Amon Göth, a concentration camp commandant. Fiennes could have been the moustache twirling villain of the piece but he gives the role of Göth many layers.
As someone who is not a fan of Janusz Kamiński’s bleachy hues, Schindler’s List is a visual treat. The black and white photography is rich and textured, offering the film a documentary feel. The now legendary sequence of the young girl making her way through the ghetto is the heart of the film, a powerful moment of pure cinema. The inclusion of John Williams’ emotive score means that you have a film packed with first rate elements. If any film shows the true power of cinema, it’s this.
Budgeted at $22 million, Schindler’s List grossed $96.8 million at he US box office and $322.1 million globally in 1993.