Schindler's List is a 1993 American epic historical period drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian. It is based on the novel Schindler's Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally. The film follows Oskar Schindler, a Sudeten German businessman, who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War II. It stars Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Göth, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler's Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern.
Ideas for a film about the Schindlerjuden (Schindler Jews) were proposed as early as 1963. Poldek Pfefferberg, one of the Schindlerjuden, made it his life's mission to tell the story of Schindler. Spielberg became interested in the story when executive Sidney Sheinberg sent him a book review of Schindler's Ark. Universal Pictures bought the rights to the novel, but Spielberg, unsure if he was ready to make a film about the Holocaust, tried to pass the project to several other directors before finally deciding to direct the film himself.
Principal photography took place in Kraków, Poland, over the course of 72 days in 1993. Spielberg shot the film in black and white and approached it as a documentary. Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński wanted to give the film a sense of timelessness. John Williams composed the score, and violinist Itzhak Perlman performs the film's main theme.
Schindler's List premiered on November 30, 1993, in Washington, D.C. and it was released on December 15, 1993, in the United States. Often listed among the greatest films ever made, it was also a box office success, earning $322 million worldwide on a $22 million budget. It was the recipient of seven Academy Awards (out of twelve nominations), including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score, as well as numerous other awards (including seven BAFTAs and three Golden Globes). In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked the film 8th on its list of the 100 best American films of all time. The Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2004.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steven Spielberg|
|Screenplay by||Steven Zaillian|
|Based on||Schindler's Ark|
by Thomas Keneally
|Music by||John Williams|
|Edited by||Michael Kahn|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$322.1 million|
In Kraków during World War II, the Germans have forced local Polish Jews into the overcrowded Kraków Ghetto. Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German from Czechoslovakia, arrives in the city hoping to make his fortune. A member of the Nazi Party, Schindler lavishes bribes on Wehrmacht (German armed forces) and SS officials and acquires a factory to produce enamelware. To help him run the business, Schindler enlists the aid of Itzhak Stern, a local Jewish official who has contacts with black marketeers and the Jewish business community. Stern helps Schindler arrange financing for the factory. Schindler maintains friendly relations with the Nazis and enjoys wealth and status as "Herr Direktor", and Stern handles administration. Schindler hires Jewish workers because they cost less, while Stern ensures that as many people as possible are deemed essential to the German war effort, which saves them from being transported to concentration camps or killed.
SS-Untersturmführer (second lieutenant) Amon Göth arrives in Kraków to oversee construction of Płaszów concentration camp. When the camp is completed, he orders the ghetto liquidated. Many people are shot and killed in the process of emptying the ghetto. Schindler witnesses the massacre and is profoundly affected. He particularly notices a young girl in a red coat as she hides from the Nazis, and later sees her body among a wagonload of corpses. Schindler is careful to maintain his friendship with Göth and, through bribery and lavish gifts, continues to enjoy SS support. Göth brutally mistreats his Jewish maid Helen Hirsch and randomly shoots people from the balcony of his villa, and the prisoners are in constant fear for their lives. As time passes, Schindler's focus shifts from making money to trying to save as many lives as possible. To better protect his workers, Schindler bribes Göth into allowing him to build a sub-camp.
As the Germans begin to lose the war, Göth is ordered to ship the remaining Jews at Płaszów to Auschwitz concentration camp. Schindler asks Göth to allow him to move his workers to a new munitions factory he plans to build in Brünnlitz near his home town Zwittau. Göth agrees, but charges a huge bribe. Schindler and Stern create "Schindler's List" – a list of about 850 people to be transferred to Brinnlitz and thus saved from transport to Auschwitz.
The train carrying the women and children is accidentally redirected to Auschwitz-Birkenau; Schindler bribes Rudolf Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz, with a bag of diamonds to win their release. At the new factory, Schindler forbids the SS guards from entering the factory floor and encourages the Jews to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Over the next seven months, he spends much of his fortune bribing Nazi officials and buying shell casings from other companies; due to Schindler's own machinations, the factory does not produce any usable armaments during this period. Schindler runs out of money in 1945, just as Germany surrenders, ending the war in Europe.
As a Nazi Party member and war profiteer, Schindler must flee the advancing Red Army to avoid capture. The SS guards in Schindler's factory have been ordered to kill the Jewish workforce, but Schindler persuades them not to, so that they can "return to [their] families as men, instead of murderers." He bids farewell to his workers and prepares to head west, hoping to surrender to the Americans. The workers give Schindler a signed statement attesting to his role in saving Jewish lives and present him with a ring engraved with a Talmudic quotation: "Whoever saves one life saves the world entire." Schindler is touched but also ashamed, as he feels he should have done even more. He breaks down sobbing, and is comforted by the workers. After he and his wife leave, the Schindlerjuden spend the night on the factory grounds and are awoken the next morning by a Soviet soldier, who announces that they have been liberated. The Jews leave the factory and walk to a nearby town.
An epilogue reveals that Schindler's marriage failed after the war, as did his attempts to start new businesses, while Göth was arrested, tried, and executed for crimes against humanity. Schindler was later honored by Yad Vashem for his efforts to save his workers from being put to death. In the present, many of the surviving Schindlerjuden and the actors portraying them visit Schindler's grave and place stones on its marker, the traditional Jewish sign of respect on visiting a grave. The final visitor is Liam Neeson, who lays two roses on the marker.
Pfefferberg, one of the Schindlerjuden, made it his life's mission to tell the story of his savior. Pfefferberg attempted to produce a biopic of Oskar Schindler with MGM in 1963, with Howard Koch writing, but the deal fell through. In 1982, Thomas Keneally published his historical novel Schindler's Ark, which he wrote after a chance meeting with Pfefferberg in Los Angeles in 1980. MCA president Sid Sheinberg sent director Steven Spielberg a New York Times review of the book. Spielberg, astounded by Schindler's story, jokingly asked if it was true. "I was drawn to it because of the paradoxical nature of the character," he said. "What would drive a man like this to suddenly take everything he had earned and put it all in the service of saving these lives?" Spielberg expressed enough interest for Universal Pictures to buy the rights to the novel. At their first meeting in spring 1983, he told Pfefferberg he would start filming in ten years. In the end credits of the film, Pfefferberg is credited as a consultant under the name Leopold Page.
Spielberg was unsure if he was mature enough to make a film about the Holocaust, and the project remained "on [his] guilty conscience". Spielberg tried to pass the project to director Roman Polanski, who turned it down. Polanski's mother was killed at Auschwitz, and he had lived in and survived the Kraków Ghetto. Polanski eventually directed his own Holocaust drama The Pianist (2002). Spielberg also offered the film to Sydney Pollack and Martin Scorsese, who was attached to direct Schindler's List in 1988. However, Spielberg was unsure of letting Scorsese direct the film, as "I'd given away a chance to do something for my children and family about the Holocaust." Spielberg offered him the chance to direct the 1991 remake of Cape Fear instead. Billy Wilder expressed an interest in directing the film as a memorial to his family, most of whom died in the Holocaust.
Spielberg finally decided to take on the project when he noticed that Holocaust deniers were being given serious consideration by the media. With the rise of neo-Nazism after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he worried that people were too accepting of intolerance, as they were in the 1930s. Sid Sheinberg greenlit the film on condition that Spielberg made Jurassic Park first. Spielberg later said, "He knew that once I had directed Schindler I wouldn't be able to do Jurassic Park." The picture was assigned a small budget of $22 million, as Holocaust films are not usually profitable. Spielberg forwent a salary for the film, calling it "blood money", and believed the film would flop.
In 1983, Keneally was hired to adapt his book, and he turned in a 220-page script. His adaptation focused on Schindler's numerous relationships, and Keneally admitted he did not compress the story enough. Spielberg hired Kurt Luedtke, who had adapted the screenplay of Out of Africa, to write the next draft. Luedtke gave up almost four years later, as he found Schindler's change of heart too unbelievable. During his time as director, Scorsese hired Steven Zaillian to write a script. When he was handed back the project, Spielberg found Zaillian's 115-page draft too short, and asked him to extend it to 195 pages. Spielberg wanted more focus on the Jews in the story, and he wanted Schindler's transition to be gradual and ambiguous, not a sudden breakthrough or epiphany. He extended the ghetto liquidation sequence, as he "felt very strongly that the sequence had to be almost unwatchable."
Neeson auditioned as Schindler early on, and was cast in December 1992, after Spielberg saw him perform in Anna Christie on Broadway. Warren Beatty participated in a script reading, but Spielberg was concerned that he could not disguise his accent and that he would bring "movie star baggage". Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson expressed interest in portraying Schindler, but Spielberg preferred to cast the relatively unknown Neeson, so the actor's star quality would not overpower the character. Neeson felt Schindler enjoyed outsmarting the Nazis, who regarded him as a bit of a buffoon. "They don't quite take him seriously, and he used that to full effect." To help him prepare for the role, Spielberg showed Neeson film clips of Time Warner CEO Steve Ross, who had a charisma that Spielberg compared to Schindler's. He also located a tape of Schindler speaking, which Neeson studied to learn the correct intonations and pitch.
Fiennes was cast as Amon Göth after Spielberg viewed his performances in A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia and Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. Spielberg said of Fiennes' audition that "I saw sexual evil. It is all about subtlety: there were moments of kindness that would move across his eyes and then instantly run cold." Fiennes put on 28 pounds (13 kg) to play the role. He watched historic newsreels and talked to Holocaust survivors who knew Göth. In portraying him, Fiennes said "I got close to his pain. Inside him is a fractured, miserable human being. I feel split about him, sorry for him. He's like some dirty, battered doll I was given and that I came to feel peculiarly attached to." Doctors Samuel J. Leistedt and Paul Linkowski of the Université libre de Bruxelles describe Göth's character in the film as a classic psychopath. Fiennes looked so much like Göth in costume that when Mila Pfefferberg (a survivor of the events) met him, she trembled with fear.
The character of Itzhak Stern (played by Ben Kingsley) is a composite of the accountant Stern, factory manager Abraham Bankier, and Göth's personal secretary, Mietek Pemper. The character serves as Schindler's alter ego and conscience. Kingsley is best known for his Academy Award-winning performance as Gandhi in the 1982 biographical film.
Overall, there are 126 speaking parts in the film. Thousands of extras were hired during filming. Spielberg cast Israeli and Polish actors specially chosen for their Eastern European appearance. Many of the German actors were reluctant to don the SS uniform, but some of them later thanked Spielberg for the cathartic experience of performing in the movie. Halfway through the shoot, Spielberg conceived the epilogue, where 128 survivors pay their respects at Schindler's grave in Jerusalem. The producers scrambled to find the Schindlerjuden and fly them in to film the scene.
Principal photography began on March 1, 1993 in Kraków, Poland, with a planned schedule of 75 days. The crew shot at or near the actual locations, though the Płaszów camp had to be reconstructed in a nearby abandoned quarry, as modern high rise apartments were visible from the site of the original camp. Interior shots of the enamelware factory in Kraków were filmed at a similar facility in Olkusz, while exterior shots and the scenes on the factory stairs were filmed at the actual factory. The crew was forbidden to do extensive shooting or construct sets on the grounds at Auschwitz, so they shot at a replica constructed just outside the entrance. There were some antisemitic incidents. A woman who encountered Fiennes in his Nazi uniform told him that "the Germans were charming people. They didn't kill anybody who didn't deserve it". Antisemitic symbols were scrawled on billboards near shooting locations, while Kingsley nearly entered a brawl with an elderly German-speaking businessman who insulted Israeli actor Michael Schneider. Nonetheless, Spielberg stated that at Passover, "all the German actors showed up. They put on yarmulkes and opened up Haggadas, and the Israeli actors moved right next to them and began explaining it to them. And this family of actors sat around and race and culture were just left behind."
Shooting Schindler's List was deeply emotional for Spielberg, the subject matter forcing him to confront elements of his childhood, such as the antisemitism he faced. He was surprised that he did not cry while visiting Auschwitz; instead he found himself filled with outrage. He was one of many crew members who could not force themselves to watch during shooting of the scene where aging Jews are forced to run naked while being selected by Nazi doctors to go to Auschwitz. Spielberg commented that he felt more like a reporter than a film maker – he would set up scenes and then watch events unfold, almost as though he were witnessing them rather than creating a movie. Several actresses broke down when filming the shower scene, including one who was born in a concentration camp. Spielberg, his wife Kate Capshaw, and their five children rented a house in suburban Kraków for the duration of filming. He later thanked his wife "for rescuing me ninety-two days in a row ... when things just got too unbearable". Robin Williams called Spielberg to cheer him up, given the profound lack of humor on the set.
Spielberg spent several hours each evening editing Jurassic Park, which was scheduled to premiere in June 1993.
Spielberg occasionally used German and Polish language dialogue to create a sense of realism. He initially considered making the film entirely in those languages, but decided "there's too much safety in reading [subtitles]. It would have been an excuse [for the audience] to take their eyes off the screen and watch something else."
Influenced by the 1985 documentary film Shoah, Spielberg decided not to plan the film with storyboards, and to shoot it like a documentary. Forty percent of the film was shot with handheld cameras, and the modest budget meant the film was shot quickly over seventy-two days. Spielberg felt that this gave the film "a spontaneity, an edge, and it also serves the subject." He filmed without using Steadicams, elevated shots, or zoom lenses, "everything that for me might be considered a safety net." This matured Spielberg, who felt that in the past he had always been paying tribute to directors such as Cecil B. DeMille or David Lean.
The decision to shoot the film mainly in black and white contributed to the documentary style of cinematography, which cinematographer Janusz Kamiński compared to German Expressionism and Italian neorealism. Kamiński said that he wanted to give the impression of timelessness to the film, so the audience would "not have a sense of when it was made." Spielberg decided to use black and white to match the feel of actual documentary footage of the era. Universal chairman Tom Pollock asked him to shoot the film on a color negative, to allow color VHS copies of the film to later be sold, but Spielberg did not want to accidentally "beautify events."
John Williams, who frequently collaborates with Spielberg, composed the score for Schindler's List. The composer was amazed by the film, and felt it would be too challenging. He said to Spielberg, "You need a better composer than I am for this film." Spielberg responded, "I know. But they're all dead!" Itzhak Perlman performs the theme on the violin.
Regarding Schindler's List, Perlman said:
Perlman: "I couldn't believe how authentic he [John Williams] got everything to sound, and I said, 'John, where did it come from?' and he said, 'Well I had some practice with Fiddler on the Roof and so on, and everything just came very naturally' and that's the way it sounds."
Interviewer: "When you were first approached to play for Schindler's List, did you give it a second thought, did you agree at once, or did you say 'I'm not sure I want to play for movie music'?
Perlman: "No, that never occurred to me, because in that particular case the subject of the movie was so important to me, and I felt that I could contribute simply by just knowing the history, and feeling the history, and indirectly actually being a victim of that history."
In the scene where the ghetto is being liquidated by the Nazis, the folk song "Oyfn Pripetshik" (Yiddish: אויפֿן פּריפּעטשיק, "On the Cooking Stove") is sung by a children's choir. The song was often sung by Spielberg's grandmother, Becky, to her grandchildren. The clarinet solos heard in the film were recorded by Klezmer virtuoso Giora Feidman. Williams won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for Schindler's List, his fifth win. Selections from the score were released on a soundtrack album.
The film explores the theme of good versus evil, using as its main protagonist a "good German", a popular characterization in American cinema. While Göth is characterized as an almost completely dark and evil person, Schindler gradually evolves from Nazi supporter to rescuer and hero. Thus a second theme of redemption is introduced as Schindler, a disreputable schemer on the edges of respectability, becomes a father figure responsible for saving the lives of more than a thousand people.
While the film is shot primarily in black and white, a red coat is used to distinguish a little girl in the scene depicting the liquidation of the Kraków ghetto. Later in the film, Schindler sees her dead body, recognizable only by the red coat she is still wearing. Spielberg said the scene was intended to symbolize how members of the highest levels of government in the United States knew the Holocaust was occurring, yet did nothing to stop it. "It was as obvious as a little girl wearing a red coat, walking down the street, and yet nothing was done to bomb the German rail lines. Nothing was being done to slow down ... the annihilation of European Jewry," he said. "So that was my message in letting that scene be in color." Andy Patrizio of IGN notes that the point at which Schindler sees the girl's dead body is the point at which he changes, no longer seeing "the ash and soot of burning corpses piling up on his car as just an annoyance." Professor André H. Caron of the Université de Montréal wonders if the red symbolises "innocence, hope or the red blood of the Jewish people being sacrificed in the horror of the Holocaust."
The girl was portrayed by Oliwia Dąbrowska, three years old at the time of filming. Spielberg asked Dąbrowska not to watch the film until she was eighteen, but she watched it when she was eleven, and says she was "horrified". Upon seeing the film again as an adult, she was proud of the role she played. Although it was unintentional, the character is similar to Roma Ligocka, who was known in the Kraków Ghetto for her red coat. Ligocka, unlike her fictional counterpart, survived the Holocaust. After the film was released, she wrote and published her own story, The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir (2002, in translation). According to a 2014 interview of family members, the girl in red was inspired by Kraków resident Genya Gitel Chil.
The opening scene features a family observing Shabbat. Spielberg said that "to start the film with the candles being lit ... would be a rich bookend, to start the film with a normal Shabbat service before the juggernaut against the Jews begins." When the color fades out in the film's opening moments, it gives way to a world in which smoke comes to symbolize bodies being burnt at Auschwitz. Only at the end, when Schindler allows his workers to hold Shabbat services, do the images of candle fire regain their warmth. For Spielberg, they represent "just a glint of color, and a glimmer of hope." Sara Horowitz, director of the Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University, sees the candles as a symbol for the Jews of Europe, killed and then burned in the crematoria. The two scenes bracket the Nazi era, marking its beginning and end. She points out that normally the woman of the house lights the Sabbath candles. In the film it is men who perform this ritual, demonstrating not only the subservient role of women, but also the subservient position of Jewish men in relation to Aryan men, especially Göth and Schindler.
To Spielberg, the black and white presentation of the film came to represent the Holocaust itself: "The Holocaust was life without light. For me the symbol of life is color. That's why a film about the Holocaust has to be in black-and-white." Robert Gellately notes the film in its entirety can be seen as a metaphor for the Holocaust, with early sporadic violence increasing into a crescendo of death and destruction. He also notes a parallel between the situation of the Jews in the film and the debate in Nazi Germany between making use of the Jews for slave labor or exterminating them outright. Water is seen as giving deliverance by Alan Mintz, Holocaust Studies professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. He notes its presence in the scene where Schindler arranges for a Holocaust train loaded with victims awaiting transport to be hosed down, and the scene in Auschwitz, where the women are given an actual shower instead of receiving the expected gassing.
The film opened on December 15, 1993. By the time it closed in theaters on September 29, 1994, it had grossed $96.1 million ($167 million in 2018 dollars) in the United States and over $321.2 million worldwide. In Germany, where it was shown in 500 theaters, the film was viewed by over 100,000 people in its first week alone and was eventually seen by six million people. The film was popular in Germany and a success worldwide.
Schindler's List made its U.S. network television premiere on NBC on February 23, 1997. Shown without commercials, it ranked #3 for the week with a 20.9/31 rating/share, highest Nielsen rating for any film since NBC's broadcast of Jurassic Park in May 1995. The film aired on public television in Israel on Holocaust Memorial Day in 1998.
The DVD was released on March 9, 2004 in widescreen and fullscreen editions, on a double-sided disc with the feature film beginning on side A and continuing on side B. Special features include a documentary introduced by Spielberg. Also released for both formats was a limited edition gift set, which included the widescreen version of the film, Keneally's novel, the film's soundtrack on CD, a senitype, and a photo booklet titled Schindler's List: Images of the Steven Spielberg Film, all housed in a plexiglass case. The laserdisc gift set was a limited edition that included the soundtrack, the original novel, and an exclusive photo booklet. As part of its 20th anniversary, the movie was released on Blu-ray Disc on March 5, 2013. A digitally remastered version of the film was released into theaters on December 7, 2018 for its 25th anniversary, grossing $551,000 in 1,029 theaters. The film was released on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on December 18, 2018.
Following the success of the film, Spielberg founded the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the goal of providing an archive for the filmed testimony of as many survivors of the Holocaust as possible, to save their stories. He continues to finance that work. Spielberg used proceeds from the film to finance several related documentaries, including Anne Frank Remembered (1995), The Lost Children of Berlin (1996), and The Last Days (1998).
Schindler's List received acclaim from both film critics and audiences. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received an approval rating of 97% based on 95 reviews, with an average rating of 9.02/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Schindler's List blends the abject horror of the Holocaust with Steven Spielberg's signature tender humanism to create the director's dramatic masterpiece." Metacritic gave the film a weighted average score of 93 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Americans such as talk show host Oprah Winfrey and President Bill Clinton urged their countrymen to see it. World leaders in many countries saw the film, and some met personally with Spielberg. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a rare "A+" grade on an A+ to F scale.
Stephen Schiff of The New Yorker called it the best historical drama about the Holocaust, a movie that "will take its place in cultural history and remain there." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times described it as Spielberg's best, "brilliantly acted, written, directed, and seen." Ebert named it one of his ten favorite films of 1993. Terrence Rafferty, also with The New Yorker, admired the film's "narrative boldness, visual audacity, and emotional directness." He noted the performances of Neeson, Fiennes, Kingsley, and Davidtz as warranting special praise, and calls the scene in the shower at Auschwitz "the most terrifying sequence ever filmed." In the 2013 edition of his Movie and Video Guide, Leonard Maltin awarded the picture a four-out-of-four-star rating; he described the movie as a "staggering adaptation of Thomas Keneally's best-seller ... with such frenzied pacing that it looks and feels like nothing Hollywood has ever made before ... Spielberg's most intense and personal film to date". James Verniere of the Boston Herald noted the film's restraint and lack of sensationalism, and called it a "major addition to the body of work about the Holocaust." In his review for the New York Review of Books, British critic John Gross said his misgivings that the story would be overly sentimentalized "were altogether misplaced. Spielberg shows a firm moral and emotional grasp of his material. The film is an outstanding achievement." Mintz notes that even the film's harshest critics admire the "visual brilliance" of the fifteen-minute segment depicting the liquidation of the Kraków ghetto. He describes the sequence as "realistic" and "stunning". He points out that the film has done much to increase Holocaust remembrance and awareness as the remaining survivors pass away, severing the last living links with the catastrophe. The film's release in Germany led to widespread discussion about why most Germans did not do more to help.
Criticism of the film also appeared, mostly from academia rather than the popular press. Horowitz points out that much of the Jewish activity seen in the ghetto consists of financial transactions such as lending money, trading on the black market, or hiding wealth, thus perpetuating a stereotypical view of Jewish life. Horowitz notes that while the depiction of women in the film accurately reflects Nazi ideology, the low status of women and the link between violence and sexuality is not explored further. History professor Omer Bartov of Brown University notes that the physically large and strongly drawn characters of Schindler and Göth overshadow the Jewish victims, who are depicted as small, scurrying, and frightened – a mere backdrop to the struggle of good versus evil.
Horowitz points out that the film's dichotomy of absolute good versus absolute evil glosses over the fact that most Holocaust perpetrators were ordinary people; the movie does not explore how the average German rationalized their knowledge of or participation in the Holocaust. Author Jason Epstein commented that the movie gives the impression that if people were smart enough or lucky enough, they could survive the Holocaust; this was not actually the case. Spielberg responded to criticism that Schindler's breakdown as he says farewell is too maudlin and even out of character by pointing out that the scene is needed to drive home the sense of loss and to allow the viewer an opportunity to mourn alongside the characters on the screen.
Bartov wrote that the "positively repulsive kitsch of the last two scenes seriously undermines much of the film's previous merits". He describes the humanization of Schindler as "banal", and is critical of what he describes as the "Zionist closure" set to the song "Jerusalem of Gold".
Schindler's List was very well received by many of Spielberg's peers. Filmmaker Billy Wilder wrote to Spielberg saying, "They couldn't have gotten a better man. This movie is absolutely perfection." Polanski, who turned down the chance to direct the film, later commented, "I certainly wouldn't have done as good a job as Spielberg because I couldn't have been as objective as he was." He cited Schindler's List as an influence on his 1995 film Death and the Maiden. The success of Schindler's List led filmmaker Stanley Kubrick to abandon his own Holocaust project, Aryan Papers, which would have been about a Jewish boy and his aunt who survive the war by sneaking through Poland while pretending to be Catholic. According to scriptwriter Frederic Raphael, when he suggested to Kubrick that Schindler's List was a good representation of the Holocaust, Kubrick commented, "Think that's about the Holocaust? That was about success, wasn't it? The Holocaust is about 6 million people who get killed. Schindler's List is about 600 who don't."[b]
Filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard accused Spielberg of using the film to make a profit out of a tragedy while Schindler's wife, Emilie Schindler, lived in poverty in Argentina. Keneally disputed claims that she was never paid for her contributions, "not least because I had recently sent Emilie a check myself." He also confirmed with Spielberg's office that payment had been sent from there. Filmmaker Michael Haneke criticized the sequence in which Schindler's women are accidentally sent off to Auschwitz and herded into showers: "There's a scene in that film when we don't know if there's gas or water coming out in the showers in the camp. You can only do something like that with a naive audience like in the United States. It's not an appropriate use of the form. Spielberg meant well – but it was dumb."
The film was criticized by filmmaker and lecturer Claude Lanzmann, director of the nine-hour Holocaust film Shoah, who called Schindler's List a "kitschy melodrama" and a "deformation" of historical truth. "Fiction is a transgression, I am deeply convinced that there is a ban on depiction [of the Holocaust]", he said. Lanzmann also criticized Spielberg for viewing the Holocaust through the eyes of a German, saying "it is the world in reverse." He complained, "I sincerely thought that there was a time before Shoah, and a time after Shoah, and that after Shoah certain things could no longer be done. Spielberg did them anyway."
At a 1994 Village Voice symposium about the film, historian Annette Insdorf described how her mother, a survivor of three concentration camps, felt gratitude that the Holocaust story was finally being told in a major film that would be widely viewed. Hungarian Jewish author Imre Kertész, a Holocaust survivor, feels it is impossible for life in a Nazi concentration camp to be accurately portrayed by anyone who did not experience it first-hand. While commending Spielberg for bringing the story to a wide audience, he found the film's final scene at the graveyard neglected the terrible after-effects of the experience on the survivors and implied that they came through emotionally unscathed. Rabbi Uri D. Herscher found the film an "appealing" and "uplifting" demonstration of humanitarianism. Norbert Friedman noted that, like many Holocaust survivors, he reacted with a feeling of solidarity towards Spielberg of a sort normally reserved for other survivors. Albert L. Lewis, Spielberg's childhood rabbi and teacher, described the movie as "Steven's gift to his mother, to his people, and in a sense to himself. Now he is a full human being."
Schindler's List featured on a number of "best of" lists, including the TIME magazine's Top Hundred as selected by critics Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel, Time Out magazine's 100 Greatest Films Centenary Poll conducted in 1995, and Leonard Maltin's "100 Must See Movies of the Century". The Vatican named Schindler's List among the most important 45 films ever made. A Channel 4 poll named Schindler's List the ninth greatest film of all time, and it ranked fourth in their 2005 war films poll. The film was named the best of 1993 by critics such as James Berardinelli, Roger Ebert, and Gene Siskel. Deeming the film "culturally significant", the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2004. Spielberg won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film for his work, and shared the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture with co-producers Branko Lustig and Gerald R. Molen. Steven Zaillian won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The film also won the National Board of Review for Best Film, along with the National Society of Film Critics for Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Cinematography. Awards from the New York Film Critics Circle were also won for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Cinematographer. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded the film for Best Film, Best Cinematography (tied with The Piano), and Best Production Design. The film also won numerous other awards and nominations worldwide.
|Best Director||Steven Spielberg||Won|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Steven Zaillian||Won|
|Best Original Score||John Williams||Won[c]|
|Best Film Editing||Michael Kahn||Won|
|Best Cinematography||Janusz Kamiński||Won|
|Best Art Direction||Won|
|Best Actor||Liam Neeson||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Ralph Fiennes||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Anna B. Sheppard||Nominated|
|ACE Eddie Award|
|Best Editing||Michael Kahn||Won|
|Best Direction||Steven Spielberg||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Ralph Fiennes||Won|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||Steven Zaillian||Won|
|Best Music||John Williams||Won|
|Best Editing||Michael Kahn||Won|
|Best Cinematography||Janusz Kamiński||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Ben Kingsley||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Liam Neeson||Nominated|
|Best Makeup and Hair||
|Best Production Design||Allan Starski||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Anna B. Sheppard||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards|
|Best Director||Steven Spielberg||Won|
|Best Screenplay||Steven Zaillian||Won|
|Best Cinematography||Janusz Kamiński||Won|
|Best Actor||Liam Neeson||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Ralph Fiennes||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards|
|Best Motion Picture – Drama||
|Best Director||Steven Spielberg||Won|
|Best Screenplay||Steven Zaillian||Won|
|Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama||Liam Neeson||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture||Ralph Fiennes||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||John Williams||Nominated|
|1998||AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies||#9|
|2003||AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Heroes and Villains||Oskar Schindler – #13 hero; Amon Göth – #15 villain|
|2005||AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movie Quotes||"The list is an absolute good. The list is life." – nominated|
|2006||AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Cheers||#3|
|2007||AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)||#8|
|2008||AFI's 10 Top 10||#3 epic film|
For the 1997 American television showing, the film was broadcast virtually unedited. The telecast was the first to receive a TV-M (now TV-MA) rating under the TV Parental Guidelines that had been established earlier that year. Tom Coburn, then an Oklahoma congressman, said that in airing the film, NBC had brought television "to an all-time low, with full-frontal nudity, violence and profanity", adding that it was an insult to "decent-minded individuals everywhere". Under fire from both Republicans and Democrats, Coburn apologized, saying, "My intentions were good, but I've obviously made an error in judgment in how I've gone about saying what I wanted to say." He clarified his opinion, stating that the film ought to have been aired later at night when there would not be "large numbers of children watching without parental supervision".
Controversy arose in Germany for the film's television premiere on ProSieben. Protests among the Jewish community ensued when the station intended to televise it with two commercial breaks of 3–4 minutes each. Ignatz Bubis, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said: "It is problematic to interrupt such a movie by commercials". Jerzy Kanal, chairman of the Jewish Community of Berlin, added "It is obvious that the film could have a greater impact [on society] when broadcast unimpeded by commercials. The station has to do everything possible to broadcast the film without interruption." As a compromise, the broadcast included one break consisting of a short news update framed with commercials. ProSieben was also obliged to broadcast two accompanying documentaries to the film, showing "The daily lives of the Jews in Hebron and New York" prior to broadcast and "The survivors of the Holocaust" afterwards.
In the Philippines, chief censor Henrietta Mendez ordered cuts of three scenes depicting sexual intercourse and female nudity before the movie could be shown in theaters. Spielberg refused, and pulled the film from screening in Philippine cinemas, which prompted the Senate to demand the abolition of the censorship board. President Fidel V. Ramos himself intervened, ruling that the movie could be shown uncut to anyone over the age of 15.
According to Slovak filmmaker Juraj Herz, the scene in which a group of women confuse an actual shower with a gas chamber is taken directly, shot by shot, from his film Zastihla mě noc (Night Caught Up with Me, 1986). Herz wanted to sue, but was unable to fund the case.
The song Yerushalayim Shel Zahav ("Jerusalem of Gold") is featured in the film's soundtrack and plays near the end of the film. This caused some controversy in Israel, as the song (which was written in 1967 by Naomi Shemer) is widely considered an informal anthem of the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War. In Israeli prints of the film the song was replaced with Halikha LeKesariya ("A Walk to Caesarea") by Hannah Szenes, a World War II resistance fighter.
Due to the increased interest in Kraków created by the film, the city bought Oskar Schindler's Enamel Factory in 2007 to create a permanent exhibition about the German occupation of the city from 1939 to 1945. The museum opened in June 2010.
The 28th National Society of Film Critics Awards, given on 3 January 1994, honored the best filmmaking of 1993.1993 New York Film Critics Circle Awards
The 59th New York Film Critics Circle Awards honored the best filmmaking of 1993. The winners were announced on 15 December 1993 and the awards were given on 16 January 1994.47th British Academy Film Awards
The 47th British Film Awards, given by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 1994, honoured the best films of 1993.
Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List won the award for Best Film (and later won the Academy Award for Best Picture). Shadowlands was voted Best British Film of 1993. Schindler's List also won the awards for Best Director (Spielberg), Supporting Actor (Ralph Fiennes), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Score and Editing. Anthony Hopkins won the award for Best Actor (Shadowlands) and Holly Hunter was voted Best Actress for her role in The Piano. The Age of Innocence won one award: Best Supporting Actress, Miriam Margolyes.51st Golden Globe Awards
The 51st Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film and television for 1993, were held on January 22, 1994, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The nominations were announced on December 22, 1993.66th Academy Awards
The 66th Academy Awards ceremony, organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored films released in 1993 and took place on March 21, 1994, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles beginning at 6:00 p.m. PST / 9:00 p.m. EST. During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 23 categories. The ceremony, televised in the United States by ABC, was produced by Gil Cates and directed by Jeff Margolis. Actress Whoopi Goldberg hosted the show for the first time. Nearly a month earlier in a ceremony held at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California on February 26, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by host Laura Dern.Schindler's List won seven awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Steven Spielberg. Other winners included Jurassic Park and The Piano with three awards each, Philadelphia with two awards, and The Age of Innocence, Belle Epoque, Defending Our Lives, The Fugitive, I Am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School, Mrs. Doubtfire, Schwarzfahrer and The Wrong Trousers with one. The telecast was watched by more than 46 million viewers in the United States.Boston Society of Film Critics Awards 1993
The 14th Boston Society of Film Critics Awards honored the best filmmaking of 1993. The awards were given on 19 December 1993Chicago Film Critics Association Awards 1993
The 6th Chicago Film Critics Association Awards honored the finest achievements in 1993 filmmaking.Hauptsturmführer
Hauptsturmführer ([ˈhaʊ̯pt.ʃtʊʁm.fyːʀɐ], "head storm leader") was a Nazi Party paramilitary rank that was used in several Nazi organizations such as the SS, NSKK and the NSFK. The rank of Hauptsturmführer was a mid-level commander and had equivalent seniority to a captain (Hauptmann) in the German Army and also the equivalency of captain in foreign armies.The rank of Hauptsturmführer evolved from the older rank of Sturmhauptführer, created as a rank of the Sturmabteilung (SA). The SS used the rank of Sturmhauptführer from 1930 to 1934 at which time, following the Night of the Long Knives, the name of the rank was changed to Hauptsturmführer although the insignia remained the same. Sturmhauptführer remained an SA rank until 1945.Some of the most infamous SS members are known to have held the rank of Hauptsturmführer. Among them are Josef Mengele, the infamous doctor assigned to Auschwitz; Klaus Barbie, Gestapo Chief of Lyon; Joseph Kramer, commandant of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp; Alois Brunner, Adolf Eichmann's assistant; and Amon Göth, who was sentenced to death and hanged for committing multiple waves of mass murder (liquidations of the ghettos at Tarnów and Kraków, the camp at Szebnie, the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, as portrayed in the film Schindler's List).
The insignia of Hauptsturmführer was three silver pips and two silver stripes on a black collar patch, worn opposite a unit insignia patch. On the field grey duty uniform, the shoulder boards of an army Hauptmann were also displayed. The rank of Hauptsturmführer was senior to the rank of Obersturmführer and junior to Sturmbannführer.Janusz Kamiński
Janusz Zygmunt Kamiński (Polish: [ˌjanuʂ kaˈmiɲskʲi]; born June 27, 1959) is a Polish cinematographer and film director who started his career in the United States. He rose to fame in the 1990s with his work on Schindler's List (1993). He has established a partnership with Steven Spielberg, working as a cinematographer on his movies since 1993. He won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography for his work on Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan (1998). In recent years, Kamiński has also moved into the field of directing, first with the horror film Lost Souls, and later television series like The Event and The Divide.
In 2019, the American Society of Cinematographers included Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, both shot by Kamiński, on the list of the best-photographed films of the 20th century.List of awards and nominations received by Steven Spielberg
The following is a list of awards and nominations received by American director, producer, and screenwriter Steven Spielberg.London Film Critics Circle Awards 1994
The 15th London Film Critics Circle Awards, honouring the best in film for 1994, were announced by the London Film Critics Circle in 1995.National Board of Review Awards 1993
The 65th National Board of Review Awards, honoring the best in filmmaking in 1993, were announced on 14 December 1993 and given on 28 February 1994.National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Film
The National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Picture is an annual award given by National Society of Film Critics to honor the best film of the year.
In the past 40 years, the Society only agreed with the Academy Award for Best Picture seven times: Annie Hall (1977), Unforgiven (1992), Schindler's List (1993), Million Dollar Baby (2004), The Hurt Locker (2009), Spotlight (2015), and Moonlight (2016). Five others have received the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film: Z, Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), La nuit américaine (Day for Night), Préparez vos mouchoirs (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs), and Amour.Oskar Schindler
Oskar Schindler (28 April 1908 – 9 October 1974) was a German industrialist and a member of the Nazi Party who is credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories in occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. He is the subject of the 1982 novel Schindler's Ark and its 1993 film adaptation, Schindler's List, which reflected his life as an opportunist initially motivated by profit, who came to show extraordinary initiative, tenacity, courage, and dedication to save the lives of his Jewish employees.
Schindler grew up in Svitavy, Moravia, and worked in several trades until he joined the Abwehr, the military intelligence service of Nazi Germany, in 1936. He joined the Nazi Party in 1939. Prior to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, he collected information on railways and troop movements for the German government. He was arrested for espionage by the Czechoslovak government but was released under the terms of the Munich Agreement in 1938. Schindler continued to collect information for the Nazis, working in Poland in 1939 before the invasion of Poland at the start of World War II. In 1939, Schindler acquired an enamelware factory in Kraków, Poland, which employed at the factory's peak in 1944 about 1,750 workers, of whom 1,000 were Jews. His Abwehr connections helped Schindler protect his Jewish workers from deportation and death in the Nazi concentration camps. As time went on, Schindler had to give Nazi officials ever larger bribes and gifts of luxury items obtainable only on the black market to keep his workers safe.
By July 1944, Germany was losing the war; the SS began closing down the easternmost concentration camps and deporting the remaining prisoners westward. Many were killed in Auschwitz and the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. Schindler convinced SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Göth, commandant of the nearby Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, to allow him to move his factory to Brněnec in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, thus sparing his workers from almost certain death in the gas chambers. Using names provided by Jewish Ghetto Police officer Marcel Goldberg, Göth's secretary Mietek Pemper compiled and typed the list of 1,200 Jews who travelled to Brünnlitz in October 1944. Schindler continued to bribe SS officials to prevent the execution of his workers until the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945, by which time he had spent his entire fortune on bribes and black market purchases of supplies for his workers.
Schindler moved to West Germany after the war, where he was supported by assistance payments from Jewish relief organisations. After receiving a partial reimbursement for his wartime expenses, he moved with his wife Emilie to Argentina, where they took up farming. When he went bankrupt in 1958, Schindler left his wife and returned to Germany, where he failed at several business ventures and relied on financial support from Schindlerjuden ("Schindler Jews")—the people whose lives he had saved during the war. He and his wife Emilie were named Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli government in 1993. He died on 9 October 1974 in Hildesheim, Germany, and was buried in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, the only member of the Nazi Party to be honoured in this way.Schindler's Ark
Schindler's Ark (released in America as Schindler's List) is a Booker Prize-winning historical fiction novel published in 1982 by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally, which was later adapted into the highly successful movie Schindler's List directed by Steven Spielberg. The United States version of the book was called Schindler's List from the beginning; it was later reissued in Commonwealth countries under that name as well. The novel was also awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction in 1983.The book tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a Nazi Party member who turns into an unlikely hero by saving 1,200 Jews from concentration camps all over Poland and Germany. It is a work of historical fiction which describes actual people and places with fictional events, dialogue and scenes added by the author and reconstructed dialogue where exact details are unknown. Keneally wrote a number of well received novels before and after Schindler's Ark; however, it has since gone on to become his most well-known and celebrated work.Schindler's List (soundtrack)
Schindler's List: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the film score of the 1993 film of the same name, composed and conducted by John Williams. The original score and songs were composed by Williams, and features violinist Itzhak Perlman.The album won the Academy Award for Best Original Score, the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music, and the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. It also received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Score.
Theme from Schindler's List is one of the most recognized contemporary film scores, particularly the violin solo. Many high-level figure skaters have used this in their programs, including Katarina Witt, Irina Slutskaya, Johnny Weir, and Yulia Lipnitskaya.Schindlerjuden
The Schindlerjuden, literally translated from German as "Schindler's Jews", were a group of roughly 1,200 Jews who were saved by Oskar Schindler during the Holocaust. They survived the years of the Nazi regime primarily through the intervention of Schindler, who found them protected status as industrial workers at his enamelware factory in Kraków and, after 1944, in an armaments factory in occupied Czechoslovakia. There, they avoided being sent to death camps and survived the war. Schindler expended his personal fortune as an industrialist to save the Schindlerjuden.
Their story has been depicted in the book Schindler's Ark, by Thomas Keneally, and Steven Spielberg's film adaptation of the novel, Schindler's List. Poldek Pfefferberg, one of the survivors, persuaded Thomas Keneally to write the novel and Steven Spielberg to produce the film.
In 2012, there were estimated to be over 8,500 descendants of Schindlerjuden living across the United States, Europe, and Israel.Steven Spielberg bibliography
A list of books and essays about Steven Spielberg:
Buckland, Warren (19 April 2006). Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster. Continuum. ISBN 978-0-8264-1691-9.
Kowalski, Dean (21 November 2008). Steven Spielberg and Philosophy: We're Gonna Need a Bigger Book. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2527-8.
McBride, Joseph (1 September 2012). Steven Spielberg: A Biography (Third Edition). Faber & Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-28055-1.
Morris, Nigel (13 August 2013). The Cinema of Steven Spielberg: Empire of Light. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-50345-7.
Spielberg, Steven (2000). Steven Spielberg: Interviews. Univ. Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1-57806-113-6.Steven Zaillian
Steven Ernest Bernard Zaillian (born January 30, 1953) is an American screenwriter, director, film editor, and producer. He won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Award for his screenplay Schindler's List (1993) and has also earned Oscar nominations for Awakenings, Gangs of New York and Moneyball. He was presented with the Distinguished Screenwriter Award at the 2009 Austin Film Festival and the Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement from the Writers Guild of America in 2011. Zaillian is the founder of Film Rites, a film production company.
Films produced by Gerald R. Molen
Awards for Schindler's List