It was a cold and dreary day outside as I walked to the bus stop. My friends and I boarded the bus at 7:15 a.m. to take us to school as usual. Today, however, would be different from any other school day because we were going to be watching Steven Spielbergs Schindlers List– a movie about one of the most significant events throughout the history of our world. Hundreds of students gathered in the auditorium of SGS Junior High School for what was going to be an unforgettable experience. We sat there for three straight hours, watching this mesmerizing film while tears filled the eyes of my classmates. As the film came to a close, silence filled the air like smoke filling a burning house. Not one word was spoken the entire way back to our classes. All of the discussions that we had throughout the year in class could never have prepared us for what we had seen.
While this film was extremely powerful, it is an absolutely amazing story about an astonishing man named Oskar Schindler. The film is about an upper-class German businessman who brilliantly manages to save thousands of Jews from being killed in concentration camps. This man drew up a list consisting of more than 1,100 men, women, and children– the Schindlerjuden, as they would call themselves. The list was his last desperate plan to save the Jews from being moved into concentration camps after evacuation orders were received. This is the reason behind the title of the film.
This date was set as the deadline for the Jews to enter the ghettos. Jews were now forced, by German soldiers, to pack their belongings and move out of their homes into Krakow, where these ghettos were established. This is an extremely disturbing scene as Jews are forced, for no reason at all other than hatred, to change their entire lifestyle. We see wealthy Jews taken from their beautiful homes into these tight, decrepit living quarters that look nothing more than shelters for the homeless. I would be destroyed if all of my hard work and dedication to succeed in life were taken in one single breath. All of those dreams that they once had were now turned into nightmares. Who the hell has the right to carry such action out against a group of individuals for the sake of hatred? Hatred is the most ignorant being in our society. Henceforth, as I discuss the other unforgettable moments from this true story, you will see how hatred and ignorance play such a significant role.
In this part of the film, we hear a speech from Hans Frank, who says, As far as the Jews are concerned, I want to tell you quite frankly that they must be done away with in one way or another. Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourself of all feelings of pity. We must annihilate the Jews. Difficult to shoot or poison the three and a half million Jews in the General Government, but we shall be able to take a measure that will lead somehow to their annihilation.
How do I begin to put into words what this speech made me think? Although I knew that speeches like this went on quite a bit throughout Nazi Germany, I have never heard one quite as direct in its meaning. The term annihilation means the complete destruction of a form or the combination of parts under which a thing exists. Murderers, rapists, and armed robbers in our society are not put into one large group and killed. How and why should innocent human beings that were intelligent and successful in society be taken from this plentiful Earth?
One of the most disturbing parts of this film was the scene that took place near the construction of a half-finished barracks in Krakow. A female Jewish worker trained as a civil engineer at the University of Milan acts as the supervisor of this construction site. Suddenly, you see her being brought over by a German soldier as she tries to describe to Amon Goeth the faulty, poorly laid foundation. She proceeds to tell Goeth, The entire foundation has to be torn down and repoured. If not, there will be at least a subsidence at the southern end of the barracks. Subsidence and then collapse. Turning towards another soldier, I assume to be his inferior in rank, Goeth commands that she be shot. As she pleads for her life, a shot rings out.
At this point, you see her body go limp and literally crumble to the ground as blood rushes out of her head– blood staining the snow as if it were red wine on a white rug. My jaw dropped with awe as I viewed this horrific scene. This caught me completely by surprise because it seems absolutely ridiculous and senseless to kill someone that was trying to help you. While still absurd, it would have made some bit of sense if they got mad since she was speaking out and didn’t know what she was talking about. However, she obviously had good reason to complain since they decided to take her advice and rebuild the structure at the end of the scene. It pained me to watch this immense demonstration of ignorance to the point where I felt sick to my stomach. It brought tears of sadness and pain into my eyes. Once again, I ask, why?
As I had mentioned earlier, the autumn of 1944 was the time when the final evacuation orders were received. The Russians were advancing, and the Jews had to be moved from Plaszow. This is when Oskar Schindler puts together a list of the essential workers that he would need for his new factory in Czechoslovakia. Through amazing luck and determination, Schindler manages to rescue thousands of Jews from their death.
It is, for this reason, that the Shindlerjuden melt down the gold bridge from a prisoner and make a ring to give to Oskar. In the ring appears: He who saves a single life saves the entire world. This finally brought a smile to my face as I realized, through his pride and sacrifices; he was able to accomplish something that nobody else had the courage and intelligence to try.
After several attempts at making a fully realized, mature film, Steven Spielberg has finally put it all together in Schindler’s List. A remarkable work by any standard, this searing historical and biographical drama, about a Nazi industrialist who saved some 1,100 Jews from certain death in the concentration camps, evinces an artistic rigor and unsentimental intelligence unlike anything the world’s most successful filmmaker has demonstrated before, writes a movie critic from variety.com.
On the contrary, however, Rita Kempley from the Washington Post explains her thoughts of the film as a ruthlessly unsentimental portrait of a German war profiteer’s epiphany that inspires neither sorrow nor pity but a kind of emotional numbness. It’s as if Steven Spielberg, so famous for emotional manipulation, here has let the material speak for itself. The result is less than heart-rending This would be an ideal ending, but Spielberg, like Spike Lee in “Malcolm X,” doesn’t quite know when to stop. (Washingtonpost.com)
While it is merely her opinion, I completely disagree with what Kempley says. How can someone say that it inspired neither sorrow nor pity but an emotional numbness? Throughout the entire film, my body was filled with sadness while I saw innocent human beings killed out of pure hatred and stupidity. Unless you are heartless, this story will bring a constant flow of tears to your eyes. Furthermore, to say that Neeson and Spielberg’s speeches at the end of the film were not necessary is preposterous. Stepping out of character, those stories were tremendous additions to the story and extremely successful in evoking such empathy and emotion. I believe that it is apparent throughout my paper which critic I agree with. The reviewer from variety.com expresses everything that I felt after viewing the film.
I would definitely recommend this film to everybody over the age of, say, twelve or thirteen years old. The amazing story of Oskar Schindler’s sacrifices for the Jews is the difference that sets this film apart from other Holocaust dramas. It introduces such a mixed array of emotions as hatred, sadness, anger, greed, and most importantly, love and compassion. Steven Spielberg disserved all of the praise that he received for this amazing film. My appreciation for the freedom that we possess has definitely been renewed after viewing this film.
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