It is currently Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:54 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 65 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 11:10 am 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:45 pm
Location: Washington
I'll be honest in saying I never really understood the hate against Schindler's List. Though I would never call it anything close to a great film some people swear it's one of the worst films ever. I never liked the shower scene, which really doesn't make sense and is obviously there to manipulate the audience, thought the red coat scene was obvious, and the ending always rang false, an issue Spielberg has had with a lot of movies, but there's still some decent things in it.

The only thing I can agree on from that list is Shawshank. I do like the film, a lot actually, but I have to agree that the high regard a lot of people have for it is uncalled for. But the rest of that article actually bewilders me. To call Blair Witch scarier than Psycho!? Blair Witch is one of the dullest movie-going experiences I've ever had, watching 3 idiots lost in the woods for 90-minutes freaking out over sticks. The only genius moment that was even a touch creepy was the final shot.


Top
 Profile  
 

PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 12:16 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 8:22 am
Location: The Room
The big issue with Schindler's List, for me anyway, is that the movie is written and directed so backwards that you wind up getting sick of the Jews and start feeling like you ought to just root for the Nazis, especially Ralph Fiennes' character, who's portrayed like some kind of badass. Of course, Spielberg's inability to avoid the manipulative scenes (the one Chris mentions and countless others) is the second biggest issue, but that's hardly unique to Schindler's List. It's just Spielberg's pathetic trademark. I especially hate the crying scene that the article calls out. All the over-the-top melodramatic weeping about not saving enough people is just wretched.

But I'll be honest, if this were any other movie, this stuff would hardly be enough to make me actively loathe the movie. But the fact that this is Schindler's List and it's supposed to be a movie about the Holocaust...that just makes this crap inexcusable. No filmmaker should get away with taking a real-life tragedy and using it as the basis for audience-manipulating, emotionally dishonest melodramatic crap designed solely to make money. And it's not like this is the only time Spielberg has done it either; the use of 9/11 and Asian Tsunami-based imagery in War of the Worlds was equally revolting. The guy is shameless.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 12:36 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 6:09 pm
CSM126 wrote:
Well he's right about Schindler's List, anyway.

What an interesting topic! I think quite a few people dislike feeling forced to agree that a picture is an undisputed masterpiece, especially if the subject matter is politically correct(in this case, a disdain toward anti-Semitism - which of course is appropriate - but this does not make any film dealing with this subject great beyond a shadow of a doubt - that is self-explanatory. In other words, the subject matter itself should never make parts of an audience shut up just because they don't think the film is a masterpiece, and if they did, they might well be afraid they'd be deemed as Nazi-friendly in regard to this film, to simplify my point.)

People in general are afraid of voicing opinions that differ from those of the vast majority. It's much easier to refrain from commenting altogether.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 3:11 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
CSM126 wrote:
No filmmaker should get away with taking a real-life tragedy and using it as the basis for audience-manipulating, emotionally dishonest melodramatic crap designed solely to make money.

As much as I like to knock the man down, Spielberg didn't make that one to for the money. If I remember correctly he has given all of the money he has made off of that film to Holocaust charities. There are many complaints that can be leveled at Schindler's List, but Spielberg's intentions is not one of them.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 3:41 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2004 8:22 am
Location: The Room
knives wrote:
CSM126 wrote:
No filmmaker should get away with taking a real-life tragedy and using it as the basis for audience-manipulating, emotionally dishonest melodramatic crap designed solely to make money.

As much as I like to knock the man down, Spielberg didn't make that one to for the money. If I remember correctly he has given all of the money he has made off of that film to Holocaust charities. There are many complaints that can be leveled at Schindler's List, but Spielberg's intentions is not one of them.


So he made a mockery of the Holocaust to benefit it's survivors? Oh, well that's delightful, then. If Uwe Boll gave the proceeds from Postal to 9/11 families, would that make that movie's mockery of the tragedy OK?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 3:55 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
knives wrote:
CSM126 wrote:
No filmmaker should get away with taking a real-life tragedy and using it as the basis for audience-manipulating, emotionally dishonest melodramatic crap designed solely to make money.

As much as I like to knock the man down, Spielberg didn't make that one to for the money. If I remember correctly he has given all of the money he has made off of that film to Holocaust charities. There are many complaints that can be leveled at Schindler's List, but Spielberg's intentions is not one of them.

I'd agree with the first part of this - the transparent motivation for this film was Spielberg buying himself an Oscar. I loathe the film and feel like it's little more than a shallow, spoiled movie brat taking a dump on millions of dead Jews. I've already vented on the film once (think it was in the 90s Film List discussion thread?) but essentially it's the same argument as CSM's, with Spielberg's cynicism amplified into rank offensiveness by the context.

As for the list that started this thread (which I'm not going to read) - the guy's clearly doing it merely to get attention, so let's not encourage him. We can have our own substantive discussions on the slighted films in their own threads - same goes for the problems of canons.


Last edited by zedz on Wed May 12, 2010 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Schindler's List
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 10:09 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
Apologies for initiating a thread with a negative post, but the topic of this film (and why some of us hate it) has arisen yet again in a "Great Films It's OK to Hate" thread. I suggested the discussion would be better served in a dedicated thread, but couldn't find one by searching, so here it is, and here is my original explanation of why I dislike it so much, from the 1990s List Project discussion thread.

zedz, way back when, wrote:
I tend to think of Spielberg as competent at creating isolated, Pavlovian sequences, but horribly deficient at building them up into interesting films, and that suspense sequence [the bus over the cliff] from Lost World is precisely the evidence I'd adduce: a nifty sequence, but a patchy film (with a couple of other nifty sequences in it) that's still miles better than the first Jurassic Park.

I felt a little guilty about slamming Schindler's List so perfunctorily [in a previous post], and just thinking about it again annoyed me so much I've decided to go into more detail about why I hate it. You have been warned!

Fundamentally, it’s a film with nothing to say (except “give me an Oscar already”). It offers no insight on the experience of the Holocaust or the psychology of its central character and simplifies everything it touches into pat cliches.

The Jews are portrayed as meek, infantilised objects, without volition, emphasised appallingly in the grotesque “oh no, you really are a very great man” scene at the end. And the Germans are portrayed in sub-Commando comics terms. The nice Germans like Schindler speak in English, the nasty ones shout “Juden Raus!” in German. If you’re going to avoid subtitles, that’s a copout (Spielberg’s pretension extends to black-and-white, but he’s not going to make his audience read, for heaven’s sake), but at least be consistent about it, and don’t use your audience’s lazy xenophobic reflexes for dramatic effect.

Characterising Fiennes’ Nazi as a psychotic pantomime villain is similarly lazy and dangerous. The Holocaust didn’t happen because everyone involved in implementing it was insane and homocidal, but Spielberg eschews the darker reality for the easy road of yet another Hollywood cliché (i.e. only obvious villains commit evil acts).

Time and again, Spielberg relies on cheap effects. The most blatant one – the red-coated girl – doesn’t even work properly, since the whole texture of the filmstock (leached colour stock rather than genuine black and white) changes for her appearances. Thus, when there’s the supposedly powerful ‘reveal’ of her garment late in the film, you’re cued to the reference as soon as the shot begins. And that shoddiness of effect only reinforces the shoddiness of the empathy mechanism Spielberg is milking: it’s purely situational and mechanistic, the girl is never characterised, let alone individualised.

There are so many better films about the Holocaust around. This vanity project brings nothing of substance to the table. There are plenty of Hollywood products (no small number of them by Spielberg) with similar flaws of pandering and back-patting, but in the context of this material I find it especially odious.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Schindler's List
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 10:16 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
While I agree with you on the emotional manipulation that Spielberg goes through I don't see this as being the vanity project you do. Everything he did before, during, and after production suggests that he felt he was doing a service to bring awareness or some such to the people. Spielberg was in his own last choice after trying to give the project to Polanski, Kubrick, and I believe a few others. I'm not trying to say it is completely with out vanities, but I don't think the cynical ones you call out. If anything should be knocked on the film it's pretty much in the way everything works to bring out a specific emotion rather than asking or answering any questions (something that you bring up). In a way this is quite like a well done Stanley Kramer production.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Schindler's List
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 10:48 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:27 am
knives wrote:
Spielberg was in his own last choice after trying to give the project to Polanski, Kubrick, and I believe a few others.

Er, what? I believe Kubrick was developing his own Holocaust film simultaneously, based on the book Wartime Lies. Are you saying Spielberg offered Schindler's to Kubrick?

Perhaps he could utilize Kubrick's archive of Holocaust info, however, for the sequel, Schindler's List 2: This Time It's Serious


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 11:01 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
If I remember correctly after Kubrick both gave up on The Aryan Papers and turned down List he gave all of his research and writings to Spielberg to use.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 1:00 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2007 7:56 am
It's certainly been a while since I've seen it, but I'll stand up as a Schindler's List defender. Do I have to list as a disclaimer that I find Night and Fog more formally interesting and Shoah more intellectually challenging? Or is that disclaimer unneeded?

The first criticism usually levied at Spielberg is that this isn't the right story to tell about THE HOLOCAUST. This isn't the story of the Holocaust, however; it's the story about Oscar Schindler and this group of Jews that were rescued from the Holocaust. Yes, the story of survival against a horrific outside force is not the story of the Holocaust itself, but in true auteurist fashion it's the story that Spielberg likes to tell. In this case, it was a factual event. There will never be a story of the Holocaust; it's simply too monumental.

Another criticism is that all the Nazis are too evil. Ironically, the protagonist is a member of the National Socialists. Schindler is not wholly evil. He's a political bureaucrat. One of the most widely acknowledged aspects of the Holocaust's uniqueness was the bureaucracy of Nazism. Schindler as protagonist ranks with 2001's Conspiracy in showing the important position the bureaucracy held.

Schindler's List shows one person attempting to subvert the bureaucracy. This isn't done in some jokey way, as in Brazil, it's shown to be worthwhile, but not all-encompassing, which is how it should be depicted. It's very clear that Schindler can't save the world, which is the purpose of the much derided final scene. Of course, in a world of kapos and politicians, as seen in literature such as Maus, trading a piece of bread often meant the difference between life and death.

How do bureaucrats, then and now, lord over people's life? That question centers on the politics of power, which, in my view, is the point of the Ralph Fiennes character. The "pardoning" scene explores the temptation of power. Even this particularly vile Nazi can be tempted to save a life if it fits his ego. Although, rightfully in the scene, killing shows more control than supposed empathy. This isn't as in depth as Christopher Browning's excellent book Ordinary Men, but Fiennes isn't the same Nazi as would be found in Indiana Jones.

As for the criticism that the Jewish characters are minimized, Ben Kingsley does an excellent job fleshing out his character, and for a story about Oscar Schindler's journey called Schindler's List, Spielberg does spend time on the peripheral Jewish characters. At the end of the film, during the actual movie, the Jews march to Israel and are given focus to their names and faces. You wouldn't find that treatment for peripheral characters in any other narrative film. The most moving scene in the film is the liquidation of the ghetto in which the plight of the Jewish characters is the primary action. Schindler watches on in order to continue his dramatic arc, but the horror of the scene for the Jewish characters is palpable.

The words "dramatic arc" may ring hollow, but this is indeed a narrative. If you want Night and Fog, just leave the theater. Surely, the form is a manipulative one, but I think Spielberg gets unfairly targeted. Many of the favorite films on this forum are melodramatic narratives. Is Grand Illusion (the film, not me) not melodramatic at parts? Does its form negate any statement it makes? How about any Mizoguchi film about women?

Drama is Spielberg's preferred medium, and, since Duel, his strengths are in showing the magnitude of a threat while keeping the emotions (not necessarily the intellect) grounded on a personal level. Spielberg is great at making the audience imagine what they would do in the construction of the scenario, precisely because of his flawed protagonists which he describes as "Mr. Everday Regular Fella," echoing the title of Christopher Browning's book.

Regarding the girl in the red dress, nitpicking the technology of the effect is just that. Do you know how many bumpy dolly rides we forgive? How many scratched film prints? How many botched stunts? The girl is individualized by her dress. If she was given full character development only to be killed off, the accusations of manipulation would be flying. Again, people ask for a film about THE HOLOCAUST. This is not that film, although by attaching our sympathies to a single individual girl, we are, indeed, manipulated when she dies. But for the greater effect, we are meant to think about this one girl and then extrapolate that feeling to all of the greater masses. It's particularly effective because the girl is not given a characterization. The effect works because the girl is personal, yet synecdochal for a greater number of people.

Another criticism is that the film has nothing to say. Of course the ending may be the most expressly political of all of Spielberg's works, but there are two things that prevent it from being seen as such. First, the clear Zionist message ("Where are we supposed to go?") given by the film is seen as a separate issue, completely divorced from the events in Poland and Germany. And second, the message may not be kosher with many of the left-leaning film critics. Much like his masterpiece Munich, Spielberg's true political reasoning (and possibly the raison d'etre of the entire project) is left until the end.

Schindler's List is not the definitive statement on the definitive industrialized catastrophe of the twentieth century. It is not THE Holocaust film, even if it is made by today's most popular filmmaker and master of melodrama. It's a powerful, and flawed, dramatic narrative that thematically deals with bureaucracy, deal-making, ghettoization, and European anti-Semitism. It successfully places the viewer in a variety of survivalist situations. It will never be the only Holocaust film. The Holocaust doesn't need one story, it needs a tapestry. Schindler's List is a more-than-worthwhile companion to pieces like Conspiracy, Lacombe, Lucian, Night and Fog, and Shoah.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 1:58 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:27 am
knives wrote:
If I remember correctly after Kubrick both gave up on The Aryan Papers and turned down List he gave all of his research and writings to Spielberg to use.


I've been a Kubrick obssessive all my life and don't recall ever hearing that. Are you sure you're not confusing SL with AI?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 3:52 am 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:36 am
Location: Spain
The Aryan papers, what an extraordinary novel !!! I recommend it.
There's a short documentary about it and Kubrick in the Eyes wide shut 2nd DVD.

The only bad thing in Sch. list is that is spoken in English. But The pianist was too. I expect the success of Inglourious Basterds and Black Book have erased for good the use of English in non-English Europeans contenders.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 10:38 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
MyNameCriterionForum wrote:
knives wrote:
If I remember correctly after Kubrick both gave up on The Aryan Papers and turned down List he gave all of his research and writings to Spielberg to use.


I've been a Kubrick obssessive all my life and don't recall ever hearing that. Are you sure you're not confusing SL with AI?

After a bit of research I was thinking of Billy Wilder, not Kubrick. :oops: Though Kubrick did give Spielberg his research.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 1:04 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:18 pm
rohmerin wrote:
The Aryan papers, what an extraordinary novel !!! I recommend it.

Actually the novel is called Wartime Lies, and it's by Louis Begley, who also wrote the novel About Schmidt, which was far superior to Payne's film.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue May 18, 2010 6:14 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:36 am
Location: Spain
You're right, I've always misunderstood most of titles.
I'd buy the Schmidt novel, I loved the film and I fancy reading its original source. Thank's for the tip


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 12:51 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:23 am
Location: Florida
Grand Illusion wrote:
The Holocaust doesn't need one story, it needs a tapestry. Schindler's List is a more-than-worthwhile companion to pieces like Conspiracy, Lacombe, Lucian, Night and Fog, and Shoah.

Not to mention Andrzej Wajda's Korczak. A film that not only has a somewhat similiar plot to Schindler's, but is also much more honest in its execution. A real masterpiece.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 5:19 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:57 pm
Location: Rollin' down Highway 41
Grand Illusion wrote:
Schindler's List is not the definitive statement on the definitive industrialized catastrophe of the twentieth century. It is not THE Holocaust film, even if it is made by today's most popular filmmaker and master of melodrama. It's a powerful, and flawed, dramatic narrative that thematically deals with bureaucracy, deal-making, ghettoization, and European anti-Semitism. It successfully places the viewer in a variety of survivalist situations. It will never be the only Holocaust film. The Holocaust doesn't need one story, it needs a tapestry. Schindler's List is a more-than-worthwhile companion to pieces like Conspiracy, Lacombe, Lucian, Night and Fog, and Shoah.
I've never read it put better.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2010 7:13 am 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Aug 07, 2006 10:36 am
Location: Spain
Numero Trois wrote:
Andrzej Wajda's Korczak... A real masterpiece.


Downloaded in record time. Ready to be watched.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:00 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC
The Village Voice held an interesting symposium on this film in March 1994.

Here's two links to it, one which is a lengthy excerpt, another which is a PDF copy of the published article/transcript (more or less complete, but not as easily searchable as the excerpt since it's an imperfect scan of newsprint).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:10 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC
CSM126 wrote:
The big issue with Schindler's List, for me anyway, is that the movie is written and directed so backwards that you wind up getting sick of the Jews and start feeling like you ought to just root for the Nazis, especially Ralph Fiennes' character, who's portrayed like some kind of badass.

Jesus, did you feel this way yourself? I've seen this film numerous times over the years, throughout high school and after college, and I don't think I know a single person who felt Fiennes' Nazi was a "badass," regardless of whether they liked the film or not.

I do agree with other problems mentioned in the first post. I would also throw in Schindler's announcement to the guards near the end. Did this really happen? Considering how many of the remaining Jews were massacred elsewhere, I was skeptical.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:17 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
My sister actually developed a crush on Fiennes after seeing the film so the badass factor is certainly there.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:23 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue May 25, 2010 11:26 pm
I've always been a List defender, but it does seem oddly similar to the kind of "A white hero saves the oppressed people" stories you get about the American South, or Blood Diamond or whatever- it's true enough that its stated aim is to be a movie about Oskar Schindler and not about the Jews, but there still something dehumanizing to the Jews in that design, particularly given the ending of the film. In that respect, it's very similar to Amistad, which as I recall is far more interested in the heroism of Quincy Adams than in the plight of the actual black people.

I'm not sure it's fair to impugn Spielberg's motives in making the movie, since it seems to me that he genuinely wanted to do a Great Movie and didn't have any other particular goal in mind- I think the problem lies more in that Spielberg has sort of middlebrow taste, and what he thinks a Great Movie is will almost inevitably be very much Oscar bait. Which is one of the reasons I like Munich so much- it feels like Spielberg had no idea of how to end it, and it doesn't resolve in any kind of successful or Oscar-friendly way.

(Gilliam on Spielberg, Kubrick, and Schindler's List)


Last edited by matrixschmatrix on Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:24 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC
Well, Fiennes is a good-looking man, but was she actually swooning over the character?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:32 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
She was certainly swooning over Fiennes, but that did lend itself to being sympathetic to the character (in the same way you'd be sympathetic to Spider to mention an other Fiennes role). Either way it worked as an out for the villainy of the character.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 65 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection