Review: Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 'Voices From The List' documentary;
The Shoah Foundation Story With Steven Spielberg; Cast and crew;
About Oskar Schindler; Regions 2/4.
STEVEN Spielberg really proved himself to be a director of serious
worth with Schindler's List, his harrowing Holocaust drama which
earned the director seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture
and Best Director.
The film depicts the true story of flamboyant German entrepreneur,
Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson), as he attempted to save
Jewish lives from under the noses of his Nazi associates.
For Schindler, the arrival of the Holocaust at first marked
an opportunity to get rich, by exploiting the Jews for cheap labour,
in his Cracow factory.
But as the horrors of the Nazi's policies become glaringly apparent,
his attempts become more desperate to save as many Jews as he
can (he rescued 1,100 at great personal cost), providing many
families with an unlikely saviour in the midst of one of history's
For many critics, Schindler's List marked the point at which
Spielberg moved from blockbuster kind to serious film-maker, with
many hailing it as his finest film since Jaws.
Its power is unquestionable. Shot in black-and-white, and featuring
some deliberately grainy camerawork, the film takes an honest,
unflinching look at the holocaust, and the effect it had on three
First and foremost is Neeson's Schindler, a debonair businessman
and womaniser, whose faith in his nation is shattered by the evil
actions of those around him.
But Spielberg doesn't just focus on Neeson, but rather tells
his story from the point of view of Sir Ben Kingsley's Itzhak
Stern, an honourable Jew who became Schindler's accountant, and
Ralph Fiennes' chilling Commandant Amon Goeth, whose handling
of the Jews serves to create one of modern cinema's true monsters.
In doing so, the film mostly manages to avoid becoming too sentimental,
with the images and scenes of the holocaust speaking for themselves,
without the need for manipulation.
The performances, too, are exceptional, with Neeson delivering
a career-best turn as the enigmatic German who, by the end of
the film, seems to want to place his nation's guilt upon his own
His relationship with Kingsley's meek Stern is wonderfully-realised
and poignantly played, providing the film with a strong emotional
core, while also providing Kingsley with another notable turn.
But Fiennes is also on outstanding form as the despicable Goeth,
who is the embodiment of pure evil, especially when using the
Jews as early morning target practice.
Some have criticised Schindler's List for becoming a little too
sentimental during its final moments (much like his Saving
Private Ryan), but that's being churlish.
This is profoundly moving, effectively shocking and a cinematic
tour-de-force. Its special edition DVD release seems especially
timely, given the state of the world today, and the fuorore surrounding
Mel Gibson's The Passion
of the Christ, which has prompted accusations of anti-Semitism.