Sunday, July 6, 2014

Perfection In Depicting the Evil in All of Us: Schindler's List

I have a short list of films, including Rear Window, Citizen Kane and The Godfather which I consider "perfect." There is not a frame out of place, not a sour note, not a dull moment. In these films, the great directors were at the top of their powers and they created their master pieces, that which we could all point to, which declare their greatness.

I will have to include Schindler's List in that short canon of films.

I feel, at times, that I am Schindler. The man whose motivation is questionable, but whose compassion and humanity grows through time and relationship and crisis. He who had to be led by the hand to mercy, but in the end weeps because he has not done enough.

There are Schindlers in every age, every era, stumbling upon a small way out of the horrors of prejudice and dehumanization. This film is not just about a moment in history, but about every moment. A call to sacrifice for those who die around us.

* * *

At this point I need to apologize to Liam Neeson for my "Rule of Liam Neeson", which goes, "An excellent actor, in order to obtain the maximum praise, must choose films in which he is the best aspect of the film."  Clearly, Schindler's List does not fit that restriction, despite the fact that The Phantom Menace, Taken, Les Miserables (1998), Clash of the Titans, Non-Stop, and many other films he starred in do qualify.  

- It is interesting to note that a film about the real life Schindler has been talked about since 1951 when Poldek Pfefferberg spoke to Fritz Lang about the possibility.  Poldek finally enouraged Thomas Keneally to write the novel on which this film was based.

-Spielberg didn't take a fee for this filming, feeling that if he did it would be "blood money".

-Auschwitz scenes were only filmed outside the gates, not inside, out of respect for the dead.

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