Spielberg’s Most Personal Project: Schindler’s List

Steven Spielberg finds himself in a territory so personal and heart-wrenching with Schindler’s List, the 1993 masterpiece that many have anticipated from the filmmaker since his breakthrough in the industry. After Raiders of the Lost Ark, growth could be found in the director’s subsequent features, demonstrating such respect and admiration for stories that are closer to our essence as human beings, and achieving so without having to remould or compensate with his trademark direction. Spielberg has finally found the perfect tale for his sentimental touch; a biography of Oskar Schindler, a man responsible for the saviour of 1200 Jews during the Holocaust through his position as a factory owner.

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There is much to absorb with such a film, despite its emotions being palpable and accessible; hence my inability to provide a lengthy and thorough review. Schindler’s List is a remarkable film that explores and captures the unjustified conditions of the Jewish community during such an event, forced into labour in hopes to aid the agendas of their enemies, and the abundance of death that surrounds an individual undertaken by those high above the Nazi rankings, based on the simple fact that they could. The film allows its expansive tale to be pinned through the symbolic gesture that radiates its two key figures; Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth, acting as the protagonist and antagonist, an almost black and white approach to their depiction, ultimately defined by their actions and attitudes but unwilling to sacrifice a shred of complexity.

It is due to the deep connection that Spielberg carries towards its material, individual scenes carry an undeniable sense of weight; arguably leaving a mark on its audience deeper than any of his other films. Take for example its final moment with Schindler among his saved Jews, instead of warmth we find in his sizeable effort, it is pain we feel from his fractured state, consumed by the guilt of the possibility that more could have been saved if he sacrificed a little more; such a moment held strongly by the growth that the character has endured since his introduction, once a self-absorbed man transformed to a sympathetic humanitarian who valued their lives just as much he does towards his own. It was a moment that is unforgettable, one that has stayed with me since my initial viewing of the film years ago when my knowledge of the event was minimal, penetrated by his genuine guilt and yearning, unable to contain the tears that filled my eyes.

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I am sure that one day I would find myself in complete adoration for this film as many others would, but even in this second trip there was still much more to absorb, facts and emotions abundantly littered throughout Spielberg’s epic, a grand feat that he has yet to outperform in his career.

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