matrixschmatrix wrote: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 think that's a valid point, it definitely crosses my mind every time I've seen the movie, but it's hard to reconcile that idea with the emotional response I had to the film (at least the initial ones I had). Rosenbaum dealt with this in his original review:
JonathanRosenbaum wrote:Despite both the subject matter and the fact that Spielberg himself is Jewish, Schindler’s List is anything but a Jewish film. Indeed, as I hope to show, even Jews who see this film are implicitly transformed by the narrative structure into gentile viewers...
On a few special occasions, the film also asks us to identify with the Jewish victims–again as gentile viewers, using Schindler’s humane sympathy as our guide. On these occasions the shots generally become newsreel-gray and hand-held, and the language we hear often switches from English to guttural European tongues, increasing our terror with both a sense of actuality and a sense of the unknown. But more often we’re asked to sit with Schindler or Goeth in the catbird seat. That’s why, when Goeth sadistically flirts with, interrogates, and finally beats his abused Jewish maid (Embeth Davidtz) in the wine cellar where she usually hides from him, Spielberg takes care to show us Davidtz’s nipples through the slip she’s wearing–to ask us to share Goeth’s unresolved sexual attraction to her.
It might be inferred from the above that I’m only denouncing Spielberg’s tactics. But the fact remains that if he weren’t this ruthless or this efficient I wouldn’t have wept at the end of Schindler’s List both times I saw it. And as tempting as it is to ridicule Spielberg’s reasons for making it–which probably include a narcissistically far-fetched identification with Schindler, and may even, for all I know, incorporate George Bush’s evocation of a “kinder, gentler” America–it would be stupid to deny that art often grows out of just such contradictions.