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Schindler’s List

Director: Steven Spielberg

U.S.A.| 1993. Black and white/colour. Dolby digital stereo. 195 mins.


The film of Thomas Keneally’s novel is Steven Spielberg’s finest since Jaws. The elastic editing and grainy camerawork lend an immediacy that’s as surprising as the shockingly matter-of-fact
depiction of violence and casual killing. And Spielberg can handle actors-Liam Neeson as Schindler, the German profiteer whose use of cheap labour in his Cracow factory saved 1,100 Jews from death; Ben Kingsley as Stern, the canny accountant; Ralph Fiennes as Goeth, bloodless commandant of Plaszow camp. Wisely, the director rarely seeks to simplify the mysterious complexity of Schindler, an opportunist whose deeds become giddily selfless. As in his earlier work, there’s a sense of wonder at the inexplicable, but it’s no longer childlike. At times the film becomes a scream of horror at the inhumanity it recalls and recreates, and the black and white images never become aesthetically sanitised. True, the Jews are huddled, victimised masses. True, too, that Spielberg finally relents and tries to ‘explain’ Schindler so that the last hour becomes steadily more simplistic and sentimental. Otherwise, however, it’s a noble achievement, and essential viewing.

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