Archive for the ‘Schindler’s List’ Category
‘Schindler’s List’ – 20th Anniversary Of Steven Spielberg’s Masterpiece – Plus, How Does Krakow Remember?
It has been 20 years since Steven Spielberg brought ‘Schindler’s List’ to the screen, and the ‘children’s director’ proved that, not only was he very grown up, but could be trusted with the legacy of one of the world’s greatest human tragedies, as well as some singular heroism.
To mark the anniversary, his seven Oscar-winning epic about the real-life efforts of one man to stem Nazi atrocity in Austria and personally save thousands of lives has been re-mastered for fresh DVD release in high definition, with Spielberg personally supervising the meticulous reconstruction from the original film reel.
Read more at The Huffington Post.
SCHINDLER’S LIST is one of the most powerful films of all time, capturing the true horror of the Holocaust.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the movie, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and won him the Best Director Oscar, as well as taking six other Academy Awards.
The true story of Oskar Schindler — a member of the Nazi party who risked his life to save 1,200 Jews — remains a cinematic triumph.
But for one British Holocaust survivor, the film — adapted from a book by Thomas Keneally — brought the horrendous truth of her time spent under Nazi occupation to life.
A question we have all pondered after watching ‘Schindler’s List’ is why did Oskar Schindler risk his life in order to save Jews? It was a time when terror reigned. The Jews had been dehumanised in non-Jewish eyes by Nazi propaganda and brutality. Tom Keneally, the author of the book Schindler’s List, quotes Schindler as having said that “A life is not worth a pack of cigarettes.” Yet Schindler risked his own life. Why?
An interesting discussion about Schindler’s actions can be found at The Southern Institute for Education and Research.
Many of you have asked why the director chose to film Schindler’s List in black and white. This moving film is probably the most famous black and white film of modern times. It is thought by many critics that Spielberg chose to film Schindler’s List in black and white to create an extra layer of horrific realism. It is interesting to note that this film did not have storyboards as director Steven Spielberg looked to Holocaust documentaries for inspiration which helps to explain the use of documentary style in the film.
Janusz Kaminski, Schindler’s List’s Director of Photography, said when he discussed the look:
“I was ecstatic to be working with Steven, and yet when we began filming it brought home the sickening reality of the Holocaust. The newsreel quality of the black and white seemed to fade the barriers of time, making [the footage] feel like an ongoing horror that I was witnessing firsthand. I think I can speak for the whole crew when I say the experience was sobering.”
It is also worth noting that the film was shot without the usual use of modern filmmaking tools such as cranes, steadicam and zoom lenses. There was much use of hand held camera shots (40%) which helped to make the film seem realistic. Perhaps the lack of more modern filmmaking tools also helped the viewer to focus on the story being told and help bring alive the time period portrayed in the film.
This year some of you will study texts like ‘Night’ and ‘Schindler’s List’ which are set in the time of the Holocaust. This interview may help you understand what happened to the Jewish people. In the video you will see a compelling video interview conducted by Tony Robbins with Alice Herz Sommer, a 108 year old survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. Despite the immense stress Alice suffered in her life she followed a simple but profound philosophy which she believes contributes to her healthy and happy life today. It is an inspiring clip.
The essay below was written as an exercise in class and is not for NCEA but it does have interesting ideas. Have a look.
Schindler’s List examines man’s capacity for good and his capacity for evil. Discuss.
In the film Schindler’s List, through the characters of Oskar Schindler, Itzhak Stern and the Amon Goeth, director Steven Spielberg examines man’s capacity for good and his capacity for evil. There are strong comparisons between the three characters. Goeth is portrayed as being inherently evil, while Stern appears inherently good. Schindler however, is a character who, throughout the film is placed under pressure, and must decide whether he will do good or evil.
In the film Goeth embodies mans capacity to be evil. Throughout the film we see that Goeth, though given the opportunities to redeem himself, cannot resist the pull to harm, hurt and destroy other humans, he cannot resist the pull to evil. One of the strongest examples of this is where Schindler attempts to appeal to Goeth’s better nature. Schindler encourages Goeth to try pardoning someone, to let a Jew go free where he’d normally just kill them. Schindler explains to Goeth that real power is when one has every opportunity and reason to kill but chooses not to. Goeth gets his opportunity to try out pardoning someone when he comes across a young Jewish boy cleaning his bathtub. The boy has been unable to remove the soap scum. Obviously terrified the young boy stands rigidly before Goeth, awaiting almost certain death. The viewer can see that Goeth is weighing up in his mind whether to kill the boy or not. He pardons him. As the boy walks stiffly out of the house, back down to camp, Goeth leans on his bathroom sink, watching his reflection muttering ‘I pardon you’ to himself. We then flash back to the Jewish boy, just about back at camp, and as we watch a gun fires, and the boy collapses, dead.
Goeths true nature can be seen in this one action. All throughout the film Goeth murders innocent people, at random; shooting women and children off his balcony as he pleases. But in this scene the viewer is horrified to see that Goeth cannot do good. He pardons the boy, but this doesn’t sit right with Goeth. His desire to kill, overwhelms the opportunity he has to do good. He tries and fails to be merciful, and the viewer can see his cold hearted, murderous nature wins over him. Every man has this capacity, to do evil when we have the opportunity to do good. In the unfortunate case of Amon Goeth, he was a man who let his capacity to commit evil develop into a desire to do evil.
Itzhak Stern is the representative of man’s capacity for good. He is a stark contrast to both Goeth and Schindler as throughout the film. Consistently Stern puts himself on the line for the sake of the wellbeing of his fellow Jews; he, unlike Schindler, never gives in to selfishness, and acts only for the benefit of his people. We see this selflessness, when he is given power over Schindler’s company and is able to recruit whoever he wants. Stern hires Jews who are likely to be killed because they are deemed to be too old, too young or too sick to work. Stern knows what the fate of these people will be, and does all he can to protect them. In this way huge numbers of Jews were saved, as the healthy ones were sent to work at labour camps while Stern hired the others for work at Schindler’s factory. Stern goes to incredible lengths to secure the fate of his people. We see him making fake work passes for those who would otherwise be exterminated because of age, health, or working background. This shows him putting in extra work and effort to save the Jews destined for the concentration camps. Stern has opportunity to benefit himself in his job of running Schindler’s factory, he is able to make false statements in the accounting books to take money or make side deals for personal benefit. Instead he works overtime, ensuring the wellbeing of current workers and creating papers for new workers. Stern is the ultimate opposite of Goeth, who in every thought and action is thinking of himself. Stern is pure and selfless.
Oskar Schindler is the character who must choose between good and evil. He is, by nature, a businessman, whose aim in life is to acquire as many material possessions as possible. To begin with, he sees the Nazi treatment of the Jews only as a money making scheme for himself. He meets with Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern in an attempt to set up a company with him. It doesn’t really bother him that Stern is a Jew, because he is someone who can help him financially. We see his initial indifference towards Stern in his first meeting with him. Stern introduces himself and tells Schindler that ‘by law, I must tell you that I am a Jew’. ‘Well, I am a German, so there we are’ is Schindler’s reply. Schindler is initially portrayed as someone who is not necessarily evil, but indifferent. He ignores the plight of the Jews. But as the film progresses, and his involvement with the Jews increases, he can no longer remain indifferent. Circumstances force him to choose how he reacts to the ‘Jewish problem’. Schindler has a capacity for good, and a capacity for evil, as do all men. But when placed under pressure, he chooses to use his capacity for good. When his Jewish workers are to be taken to Auschwitz, a death camp in Poland where they will almost certainly be killed, Schindler chooses to do good. And we see that he does in fact have incredible capacity for good, because in saving his Jewish friends, he has to risk his life, and to give up all that he owns. The things that were originally so important to him no longer hold such a significant place in his life.
This essay may help those of you who are revising Schindler. I have already had some feedback and students have told me to fix up the student’s punctuation – Jew’s to Jews – good spotting! And that the essay needs a discussion of filmic detail – camera work in particular and that quotations need to be added.
Analyse how one main character or individual changed to become more (or less) admirable.
In the film Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg, the main character of Oscar Schindler dramatically changed into a vastly more admirable character than when we were first introduced to him. As Schindler gained more wealth and power he had more experiences which tested his moral fibre and the decisions he made were what changed the viewers opinions of him to see him as more admirable by the end of the film.
Schindler was firstly seen as a selfish entrepreneur with a love of luxury and thrived off the profits of slave labour during World War II. His pot factory, however, soon became a haven for Jews as Schindler collected them from labour camps, mostly in Poland. As Schindler went to the labour camps he would be witness to many brutal shootings of the innocent and undeserving Jews. As the Holocaust worsened, Schindler heard more horrific stories which he could no longer ignore and quickly wrote up a list, with the help of his financial advisor, an intelligent Jew, Itzak Stern. With the names of hundreds of Jews. Schindler took the list to the commandant of the labour camp and demanded ‘what is one worth to you’, ‘tell me, just tell me, what is one worth!’ This is the major turning point for the character of Schindler as we see he has realised the true value of money and life. This quote shows how he is willing to pay any amount to save the lives of the Jews.
Schindler’s character is contrasted with the character Amon Goeth, the commandant of the labour camp. The contrast between the two emphasizes to the audience how admirable Schindler becomes. Both men reach positions of power because of the war and have many lives at their finger tips. Goeth, after a night of drinking, eating and partying, gets out of his bed and with a smoke in his mouth, idly shoots Jews in the camp below who are simply going about the chores they have been assigned. This horrific behaviour and brutality towards the Jew’s demonstrates how easily power can corrupt one’s mind and Goeth sees the Jews as worthless. The viewer is shocked by these scenes as we cannot understand how a human could mercilessly kill another and we then realise how ‘angelic’ the actions of Schindler are.
One of the final scenes where Schindler is leaving his factory to escape the police is a moment where Schindler’s transformation into a morally good and admirable person is concreted. With tears in his eyes Schindler exclaims this watch, one. And this car, that’s five for this car alone. As he reminisces over how many more lives he could have saved the viewer is convinced of Schindler’s transformation from a selfish entrepreneur to a selfless hero. He saved the lives of over one hundred families yet still feels guilty as if it weren’t enough. Schindler did a very admirable job at saving so many lives and many people would aspire to become what he had transformed into in such a tough situation.
Schindler went from one extreme to the other in his transformation so the change in becoming more admirable was much more dramatic to the viewer. Schindler began as a selfish man but redeemed himself by saving so many innocent lives then claiming it wasn’t enough. This made the viewer see Schindler as a character to admire by the end of the film.
Here is the link to the Schindler’s List exemplar on the NZQA site. The essay received a merit grade.
I am updating moodle and there are more resources under Schindler’s List.
All concerns of men go wrong when they wish to cure evil with evil.
SOPHOCLES, The Sons of Aleus
The whole gamut of good and evil is in every human being, certain notes, from stronger original quality or most frequent use, appearing to form the whole character; but they are only the tones most often heard. The whole scale is in every soul, and the notes most seldom heard will on rare occasions make themselves audible.
FANNY KEMBLE, Further Records, Feb. 12, 1875
The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.
ALBERT CAMUS, The Plague
Evil is done without effort, naturally, it is the working of fate; good is always the product of an art.
There is no reason why good cannot triumph as often as evil. The triumph of anything is a matter of organisation. If there are such things as angels, I hope that they are organised along the lines of the Mafia.
KURT VONNEGUT, JR., The Sirens of Titan
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, Beyond Good and Evil
No one who, like me, conjures up the most evil of those half-tamed demons that inhabit the human breast, and seeks to wrestle with them, can expect to come through the struggle unscathed.
SIGMUND FREUD, Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria
No one becomes depraved all at once.
Apathy and evil. The two work hand in hand. They are the same, really…. Evil wills it. Apathy allows it. Evil hates the innocent and the defenseless most of all. Apathy doesn’t care as long as it’s not personally inconvenienced.
JAKE THOENE, Shaiton’s Fire
Apathy is the glove in which evil slips its hand.
All things truly wicked start from an innocence.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY, A Moveable Feast
The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all evil that is in the world.
MAX BORN, as quoted in Judith Sherven’s The New Intimacy
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Fairly examined, truly understood,
No man is wholly bad, nor wholly good.
THEOGNIS OF MEGARA
Those who choose not to empathise enable real monsters, for without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves we collude with it through our apathy.
J. K. ROWLING, speech, Jun. 5, 2008
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction.
BLAISE PASCAL, quoted in The International Thesaurus of Quotations