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Schindler’s List by Steven Spielberg is a world-renowned film based on the drama of the World War 2 Holocaust survivors and the man who unexpectedly came to be their saviour. War profiteer Oskar Schindler uses Polish Jews as cheap labour to produce cookware for the German forces. But after witnessing the violent demise of the walled ghetto where the Krakow Jews have been forced to live, Schindler slowly begins to realize the immense evil of the Nazis.
The film Schindler’s List won 7 Academy Awards in the year it was released. It boasted high rated reviews and had large box-office turnovers. It was even officially endorsed, by the President of the USA, at the time - Bill Clinton.
So how come it is so widely rated as such an extradionary film? Many critics have wrote boastful reviews - In Eric Enders review his remarks were:
“It is entertaining to be sure, but it is much more than that. It is gut-wrenching, emotional, and visionary. Sitting in the theatre, I knew this was something special, a film and an experience I will never forget.”[i]
One of the main reasons Schindler’s List is so successful is because the film is based and portrays such a debatable topic: The Holocaust. No other major films have been made relating specifying only to this topic, due to it being such a coarse and extremely graphic issue.
“It was brutally graphic, but not in a gratuitous way like the popular films of today, it was graphic because it was an accurate portrayal of true event in history. Without the violence and nudity it would have betrayed the truth, sugar-coating it, and providing a dishonest picture of the evil that was the Holocaust.”[ii]
Steven Spielberg’s main reason for making the film stated in an interview were:
“I wanted to expose the intricate nature of the Holocaust to the World”.[iii]
Many film critics have argued since the film was released about the films horrific nature and one of the main questions has been; was the film accurately portrayed? – Is the film overdone in juxtaposition with real events? – Or does the film not accurately show the brutal and inhumane events that really took place? In my analysis I wish to endeavour in to the extent of how much Schindler’s List accurately portrays with reality of aspects and events.
The film begins in Krakow, Poland just after the collapse of the Polish army and at the beginning of the German occupation. Oskar Schindler arrives in the city looking to open a factory in order to profit from the war. Since the Jews are no longer permitted to own businesses, Oskar obtains a factory from a Jewish man named Itzhak Stern, and appoints him as his accountant and manager. Schindler gets the rich Jews from the ghetto to invest in the factory and he uses Jews to work for him since they cost him little. Through the black market, Schindler obtains numerous delicacies such as liquor and chocolate for the SS and German officers to get them under his favour. Schindler spent his days entertaining the Nazis and his many women, while leaving the work of running the factory to Itzhak’s very capable hands. Whenever he did meet with Stern, he would feed him little stories of how the Jews were being treated. Though at first he took these stories without a care, Schindler began to feel more and more impacted and would make small moves that showed that inside he was starting to care.
Schindler’s factory became a haven for the Jews, the word quickly spread that in Schindler’s factory nobody died. Schindler himself was apparently unaware of this fact until one day, a young Jewish woman begged Schindler to hire her parents who were at a labour camp. He was appalled by this request and fearful of what could happen to him. His angry outburst scared the girl out of his office, but a few days later she saw her parents being sordered into his factory by German officials. Several days later, all of the Jews in the camps are asked to strip and put through numerous exams to see whether they are sick or healthy enough to work. They are separated and the weak ones are gassed. All
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