Steven worldwide. For decades, it has been regarded

Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is perhaps the most critically acclaimed of WWII Holocaust films; since its release in 1993, it has been the recipient of 34 awards, over 300 million USD in the box office, and 25 years of international parley between critics worldwide. For decades, it has been regarded as a combination of realism and popular appeal. Schindler’s List is undisputed in its heart-wrenching ability to truly move its audience, yet the question remains–to what extent was the film an accurate portrayal of the historic event? Schindler’s List portrays the story of German businessman Oskar Schindler evolving from member of the Nazi regime to humanitarian of the oppressed Jews. Initially, Schindler is untroubled by the racial antisemitism surrounding him; he merely takes advantage of the Jews from the nearby Krakow ghetto as cheap labour to fuel profit, and employs Itzhak Stern to run his business (due to his ineptitude for the ‘nuts-and-bolts’). Throughout the film, Schindler becomes increasingly attached to ‘his’ Jews, bribing officials, relocating, and eventually expending his own fortune to ‘buy’ each and every Jewish worker from being deported to Auschwitz (during which Schindler forms a list of over 1200 Jews, prompting the famous line from Stern: “the list is life”). Schindler is forecast as the ultimate protagonist of moviegoers–selfless to the point of sacrificing his shirt off his back for a Jew–while the Nazis, clad constantly in uniform and with the everpresent swastika lapel pin, are highly antagonized. Nazi officials drink to excess, whore, and womanize at every opportunity, or shoot Jews on sight. In one scene, a German SS officer sits at abandoned piano and plays Bach (English Suite No. 2, BWV 807) while his comrades massacre the Jews remaining in the ghetto. In another demoralizing instance of Nazi cruelty, German officers laugh and joke among one another while Jews exhume and burn the bodies of those killed in the Krakow ghetto. Plaszow camp Kommandant Amon Goeth is depicted as a sociopathic sadist who murders without reason and repeatedly abuses young Helen Hirsch, his Jewish maid. At one point, Schindler tells her that “Amon will not shoot you because he enjoys you too much”, indicating that Goeth kills the others simply because they neither please nor displease him; they are of no interest to him. Spielberg employs Machiavellian tactics to fabricate a story that lies close to his heart, yet succeeds in emotional appeal; once revealed, Schindler’s List can only be seen as a failure both in filmography and historical accuracy. The characterizations are flat and delineated with a stark contrast to one another, exemplified by the zealotry with which Schindler works to save Jews and the apathy with which Amon Goeth (the principal ‘evil’ Nazi) slaughters the Jews. Schindler’s fanaticism is emphasized to such an extent that once viewed in retrospect, does not seem plausible in comparison with his initial self-serving character. A large portion of Schindler’s List’s appeal lies in the true story on which it is based–therefore, it should be duly noted that there was no real Schindler’s list. In the film, Schindler is shown (1944) giving the Jewish manager of his enamelware and arms factory in Krakow, Poland, the names of Jewish workers to be taken within the safety of the Czech Republic. However, at that time, Schindler was in reality being imprisoned for bribing Goeth (courtesy of David M. Crowe, Holocaust historian, and professor at Elon University, North Carolina). While there were nine lists total, the first four were created not by Stern but by Marcel Goldberg, a corrupt Jewish security officer. According to Crowe, Schindler provided a ‘handful’ of names but did not author the majority of the lists. Schindler may have used the list to embellish his heroism during the wartime efforts, a deed which was further supported by those saved by him. Ultimately, Spielberg has created a film which is Jewish in nature; “that is, a film by Jews, about Jews, and for Jews to use against non-Jews” (The Journal of Historical Review, 1994).


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