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Schindler's List (1993) - Review

"Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don't."

So I finally got around to watching this classic by Steven Spielberg. For a long time it has been sitting in my HDD, and I even forgot about it. But watching Bridge of Spies recently, another Spielberg movie, reminded me that I definitely have to watch this now. And I'm glad I finally did.

Schindler's List is movie based on a true story about Oskar Schindler, a Nazi German business man, who saved many Jews during the Holocaust. Liam Neeson plays as Schindler and at the time (1993), he was mostly unknown in the business, and gave his career defining role. He was brilliant as Oskar Schindler, and perfectly captures his transformation from a businessman profiting over war to a savior.

Neeson is accompanied by a great supporting cast, all delivering great performances. Special nod to Ben Kingsley, who plays the Jew accountant for Schindler. I loved their chemistry and how it grew. And another nod to the show stealer Ralph Fiennes, who plays the Nazi commandant of the concentration. The dude just killed it. He was despicable, he was evil and he was plain brilliant. Every scene he was in just oozed with his Nazi-ness. And at the same time, you could see some glimpses of him being a human being and not all evil. Great stuff.

Spielberg took this opportunity to not only show Schindler's story, but also give audiences some view of the horror of Holocaust. There are some truly unsettling scenes and content in the movie. You see the brutality, the horrors and suffering without it going overboard. And it flowed perfectly with the Schindler's story-line, as to give us a view of how he must have felt at times. The movie is over 3 hours long but great editing and pacing made me never feel like it. The movie is filled with great scenes. It never felt tedious or overly long.

The movie is shot beautifully with great sets, on-location shots and cinematography, and all in black and white. This gives the film a timeless feel and often feels like you're watching documentary, that is how authentic it feels. Along with that we are accompanied by beautiful score by John Williams, which is haunting and beautiful, perfectly complementing the scenes and scenario.

There were still some issues with the film. For the most part in the movie, it just didn't felt like Schindler had any particular difficulty in his role and doings. It all felt kinda easy, the way movie depicted it, which in turn lowered the stakes. Plus, the emotional attachment to Schindler wasn't that strong for me to the level movie wanted it to be, which in turn made the whole emotional weight of the movie a bit lesser. That's not to say there wasn't any weight, because there certainly was, especially in the end. But I just felt like the movie somewhat failed to get me involved to the extent it wanted me to. Also, it felt odd seeing how everyone spoke English most of the times but you would sometime see Nazi soldiers speaking in German

Overall, it certainly is a great classic. It is hopeless and yet hopeful too. And I'm glad I finally experienced it. Great film making by Spielberg. And to thing that this came out in the same year as Jurassic Park, it just doesn't get any higher than this for a director. No wonder he is considered one of the greatest director in Hollywood.



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