Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Factory: Schindler's List

After such summer smashes as Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., and Jurassic Park, and the success of his primitive but utterly fun TV movie Duel, Steven Spielberg finally makes a serious and gratifying movie that still stands to this day as his magnum opus. This may not be the 8th greatest American film of all time (as said by the AFI), but it deserves a spot in at least the Top 50, as it is fearless in taking on one of history's most difficult subjects, the Holocaust. (As a friend said) save Liam Neeson's emotional "I should've saved one more" breakdown towards the end, this film is note-perfect. Neeson plays Oskar Schindler, a industrial member of the Nazi party who is focused on one thing: money. He decides to hire an accountant (Ben Kingsley) and start a business of assembling pots and pans that Jews can work in. We see early on that Schindler is not at all caring about his workers. But this all changes with a new mindset later. Another factor: Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), a faux-enigmatic Nazi who snipes Jews in his spare time from just killing them on the streets of Krakow. Why do I say faux-enigmatic? Well, how do you explain the fact that after hearing a thought from Schindler about pardoning Jews he releases a Jewish servant and then momentarily kills him after a change of mind? The straight truth is that he is a devoted killer of Jewish people, but he is also helping Schindler out a bit in his cause of freeing some Jews. The similarities that these two very different men bare are strange and eery. Anyways, between the folds of the main quest are mini-stories about Jews who are on the run from the Nazis. These are extremely compelling, and within minutes you are familiarized and acquainted with these people. Also, beneath the lead idea are some of the most violent scenes of all time, in which many Jews are executed and it is very disturbing. There are also other very memorable but disturbing scenes scattered through the movie as well. Speaking of memorable, this movie is unforgettable and is a cinematic wonderland, filled with sparing amounts of color in the majority of black and white, such as the red dress that a girl is wearing which Schindler sees in the stages of running through the streets and dying. Also, a final scene shows the real life survivors alongside the actors, in a brilliant and great touch. Now, to the acting: Neeson is pretty good, but is memorable for his stern and heroic presence. Fiennes, though, plays Goeth with flare and does a great job. All the minor performances are also spectacular. Bottom line: a near-flawless, no-nonsense movie that is flat-out outstanding. A

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