My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 08: Schindler's Liste (Best Picture Ranking)

This is maybe the most difficult movie to judge in this ranking because it is impossible to separate the theme of Schindler’s List from the quality of the movie itself – is Schindler’s List really a great film or does it only seem like a great film because it deals with greatest crime in the history of mankind? Because, yes, there are some flaws in this movie – Schindler’s List sometimes features that undeniable ‘Spielberg-touch’ that tries to manipulate the audience as much as possible despite the fact that a movie like this certainly would not have needed any manipulation. It also tends to oversimplify certain aspects (like the scene of Amon Göth deciding to forgive the people in the camp until he simply decides to forgive himself so he can keep killing). And I can’t deny that one critic was right when he wrote that only Spielberg could do a Holocaust-movie with a happy ending – because by focusing on a specific group of people (the Schindler Jews) he creates a connection between them and the audience and to see these people saved at the end somehow does evoke a feeling of relief. But in the end, I don’t think that these flaws matter because Schindler’s List is a movie that isn’t made more powerful by its subject but instead achieves the almost impossible – telling a tale that seems impossible to tell. Even the most gruesome images in Schindler’s List still don’t seem able to really grab the horror and the terror of the Holocaust but even if it may focus on the constant escape of the Schindler Jews, it still evokes, like almost no other movies about this subject, a feeling of hopelessness, of constant danger, of the ever-present feeling of danger that dominates the life of all the people that the Nazis found unworthy to live during the darkest time in the history of mankind.

Schindler’s List uses the means of cinema and combines them with an almost documentary-like presentation of the crimes of the Nazis. The character of Schindler, his determination to save as many people as possible, follows the rules of the cinema and the audience which expects a plot to follow. The character of Amon Göth and the terror of the camps intervenes with this plot to make the unimaginable happen in front of our eyes.

In Schindler’s List, Steven Spielberg creates some of the most horrifying images in movie history – horrifying because we know that they tell the truth and even more horrifying because we know that they don’t even show half of the crimes. But what Spielberg also achieved is to make Schindler’s List entertaining – I know this may sound horrible but I think he achieved the impossible to create a movie you actually want to see and that actually involves you. A never-ending sequence of murders may have turned a lot of viewers off just as a thin and undeveloped plot might have but Spielberg did manage to make a movie that captivates you just as much as it shocks you.

From the detailed art direction to the brilliant black-and-white cinematography right to John William’s unforgettable score, Schindler’s List reaches perfection on every level. And also the cast was more than up to the task. In the central role, Liam Neeson thankfully never tried to turn Schindler into a saint but instead showed that many flaws that shaped his character. Ralph Fiennes is too good for words as one of the most terrifying characters in movie history and the whole supporting cast worked wonderful, too.

From the liquidation of the Ghetto in Krakow to the separation of the children from their parents and to the scenes in the shower in Auschwitz, Schindler’s List is a movie that deservedly became the cultural phenomenon it is today.


Louis Morgan said...

Hard to watch but deeply moving. A great film very deserving for a spot in the top ten.

Anonymous said...

Almost perfect film! Great placing!