Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
Message
Author
User avatar
hearthesilence
Posts: 4246
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#51 Post by hearthesilence » Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:18 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:I think one of the problems with the movie is that there are a few moments which stick in the memory and eventually overwhelm the tone and conception of most of the movie- the ending, the red coat, and the watch speech in particular are all sort of embarrassingly Hollywood clip moments, but I don't think they're at all representative of the overall tone or conception of the film.
Those moments usually get cited quite a bit, so much that it does overshadow what works in the movie (unless you think the film is completely without merit).

I generally have mixed feelings about Spielberg, but I still think Schindler's List and A.I. are his two most interesting works, the ones I would revisit the most. They're far from perfect, but the debates over both films can be compelling because of their flaws, especially when they branch out to the idea of more popular (or I guess populist) cinema and the implications of dealing with material like this within the same parameters of populist filmmaking. (To paraphrase J. Hoberman's question, is it even possible to make a Hollywood film on something like the Holocaust that is wholly successful on both an artistic and commercial level? Of course, if you're Kubrick, the short answer is no.)

Tuco
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 4:57 pm
Location: Twin Cities, MN

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#52 Post by Tuco » Sat Dec 17, 2011 3:05 am

I'm sure it's been noted elsewhere that Spielberg is a collector of Norman Rockwell's work. How about we admit that at times he (Spielberg, not Rockwell!) has provided us with some truly marvelous cinematic moments, but still can create truly "yecch" moments (thank you, Mad Magazine) ala Rockwell? Maybe I'm being naive, but I think the speculation over "Oscar" moments is unfair. The guy wears his heart on his sleeve. Yes, a number of failed sequences in his "serious" movies, but many quite a few memorable, moving, and "how he do that?" moments...

...as well as a number of great popcorn flicks. I, for one, will always remember the summer of 1974, where, as a Southern California native, I found it incredibly fucking difficult to do anything at Huntington Beach except look at the water, rather than going in. And if you haven't enjoyed Bruce chewing on the citizens of Amity Island, Indiana Jones beating the crap outta Nazis, a Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing a jeep or Martian Death Machines stomping through New Jersey, you've forgotten how to have fun at the movies.

User avatar
knives
Posts: 14125
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#53 Post by knives » Sat Dec 17, 2011 3:25 am

I guess I never new how to.

User avatar
Gregory
Posts: 5308
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#54 Post by Gregory » Sat Dec 17, 2011 3:50 am

Anyone who doesn't like hits x, y, and z by this band I like has forgotten how to enjoy music. They're so popular and objectively great that people who are left cold by their music must be too odd or uptight to appreciate any form of mass entertainment.

User avatar
MichaelB
Posts: 12299
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#55 Post by MichaelB » Sat Dec 17, 2011 4:26 am

Tuco wrote:I, for one, will always remember the summer of 1974, where, as a Southern California native, I found it incredibly fucking difficult to do anything at Huntington Beach except look at the water, rather than going in.
Blimey - if you were already that paranoid, what on earth was it like the following summer when Jaws opened?

Snarky quibble aside, I agree with you - I still have very fond memories of someone round these parts putting scare quotes round the word "fun" when quoting something I'd said back to me, a gesture that spoke not so much volumes as encyclopaedias.

I've just been compiling a selection of work by the late Gilbert Adair for publication on Sight & Sound's website (next week, hopefully), and I deliberately ran together his reviews of Stalker and E.T. on the same page to emphasise the fact that he was a fan of both Tarkovsky and Spielberg. And my other selections are similarly designed to highlight the fact that for someone who quite deliberately cultivated the image as an aloof cultural elitist, Adair also very much knew how to enjoy himself.

Numero Trois
Posts: 616
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 5:23 am
Location: Florida

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#56 Post by Numero Trois » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:03 am

Tuco wrote: .......a Tyrannosaurus Rex chasing a jeep ..........
I enjoyed the heck out of that scene. But what about the rest of the movie? It just circles back to what Zedz was saying in the first page. It'd be more fun to have a movie that was fully realized rather than one with a single worthwhile sequence shorter than your average amusement park ride.

User avatar
colinr0380
Posts: 8508
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#57 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:42 am

hearthesilence wrote:I generally have mixed feelings about Spielberg, but I still think Schindler's List and A.I. are his two most interesting works, the ones I would revisit the most.
A.I. I think is Spielberg's best 'serious' work mostly because, in contrast to Schindler's List, he can go all out with wacky/'overpowering' setpiece digressions (even Robin Williams playing a magical wizard and Jude Law a gigolo doesn't derail the film!) and sentimentality (which feels earned because it only gets resolved in a 'fairy tale' way that proves to be even more upsetting), and yet none of this is able to destroy that incredibly bleak framework of yearning for the unattainable and simply not being able to process abandonment and move on. That for me feels like Spielberg's true masterpiece in which a lot of his 'entertainment' proclivities are correctly used in service of a devastating story.

This is perhaps the best piece of criticism on A.I. I have read.

User avatar
tavernier
Posts: 2866
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:18 pm

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#58 Post by tavernier » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:55 am

where's Armond when we need him?

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Posts: 11993
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#59 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:42 pm

Coming to Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy/Ultraviolet Combo Pack on March 5th

In case you ever wanted to watch Schindler's List on your iPod Touch on a plane.

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13644
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#60 Post by swo17 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 5:53 pm

My only real use for this film is to have it on in the background during makeout sessions. Which digital format is recommended for that?

User avatar
mfunk9786
Under Chris' Protection
Posts: 11993
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 4:43 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#61 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:27 pm

Image

User avatar
Matt
Posts: 6302
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:58 pm

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#62 Post by Matt » Mon Jan 14, 2013 6:44 pm

Image

User avatar
Murdoch
Posts: 3245
Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:59 pm
Location: Upstate NY

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#63 Post by Murdoch » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:02 am

Well that gives the film a different spin.

Mack the Finger
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:57 pm

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#64 Post by Mack the Finger » Mon Apr 01, 2013 5:36 pm

Well, I’m also a Schindler’s List supporter. I like how Spielberg left his comfort zone, the cranes and the zoom lenses, and shot a lot of the film with handheld cameras. He was really trying to make serious art, although a bit of melodrama was inevitable.
Really, a lot of the negative reviews I read focus on the “happy” ending. I remember something Stanley Kubrick said in an interview, about how the holocaust was about failure (6 million people who died) and Schindler’s List was about success (focusing on 6 thousand who didn’t). But, in my opinion, the film isn’t that feel-good at all. For over 2 and a half hours we see people suffering and dying, and when, in the end, the Schindler jews survive, it just feels like a ray of sunshine after a huge storm. Plus, the movie doesn’t let us forget about the people who weren’t so lucky, as there is a shamelessly weepy scene when Schindler cries his eyes out and regrets the millions of lives he couldn’t save.
So, the ending isn’t so much “happy” as it is hopeful, but that’s alright. The film reflects on a sad time in History, it shows us the uglier side of humanity, but the final message is something like “Hey, you know, there is still some room for hope. There are still things worth fighting for.”
I’ll admit I didn’t love the shower scene. It’s slightly manipulative, yes, but it was inspired by facts. It’s not like the filmmakers invented that event to shock and terrify the audience. Besides, although the main characters are saved, there is an ominous shot of the black smoke rising from the chimneys, remembering us yet again that, for every person Schindler saved, millions died.
That said, I do think it is a great film, although surely not among the 10 or 50 greatest films off all time, and definitely not as relevant as documentaries like Shoah.

User avatar
MyFathersSon
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:33 pm
Location: Grand Junction, CO

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#65 Post by MyFathersSon » Sat Nov 25, 2017 7:13 pm

In a blog, Benjamin Naylor attempted to explain why Saul Bass' Schindler's List poster was rejected by the studio. The graphics artists who design movie posters often go minimalist in order to capture in a simple, striking graphic, the 'aboutness' of a film. Aboutness is the relevance of a text to its reader. Aboutness can be seen as a clarification, that makes data or information more clear and easily retrieved. Aboutness does that to information, and it makes aboutness a logical necessity. If we didn't have aboutness, we wouldn't be able to describe the world around us in a proper way. Movie critics provide a good example of aboutness judgments. When some critics rave and others pan, it is not because they have seen different physical texts; rather, all the technical knowledge, topical knowledge, emotions and beliefs of each critic are being engaged in the construction of a response to the physical text.

Ebert began his 2nd and last review of Schindler's List by writing that the film isn't about the Holocaust, it's really two parallel character studies. If Ebert's response to the text of the movie is valid, wouldn't the official movie poster display images of Neeson and Fiennes? Neither of Ebert's reviews mentions the most criticized scenes in the entire film - the weeping scene and the red coat scenes. However, the official movie poster by Tom Martin apparently displays Schindler hand-in-hand with red coat girl, which didn't actually happen, it's from Schindler's imagination. I think Tom Martin and other minimalist poster artists are on to something. It was deep in Schindler's psyche to save red coat girl, he didn't, and for that he wept. The most criticized scenes in the movie are also the most misunderstood scenes.

User avatar
MyFathersSon
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:33 pm
Location: Grand Junction, CO

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#66 Post by MyFathersSon » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:53 pm

The 25th anniversary retrospective screening will be at the Tribeca Film Festival April 26. After the screening of the restoration world premiere: A conversation with director Steven Spielberg and actors Liam Neeson, Sir Ben Kingsley and Embeth Davidtz. Moderated by New York Times critic Janet Maslin.

User avatar
Ribs
Posts: 2930
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#67 Post by Ribs » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:56 pm

...has there been another restoration? I'm not seeing anything about it when looking it up. Genuinely curious if it has been if Uni might put it out on 4K in the Fall, possibly the first monochrome title to get put out.

connor
Posts: 93
Joined: Thu Jul 29, 2010 2:03 pm

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#68 Post by connor » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:59 pm

Spielberg's best examination--even if he wasn't aware of it--of the contradictions inherent in attempting to be a moral or "good" capitalist. In Oskar Schindler, he finds the ideal subject. Particularly in how he keeps Schindler (except for the very end) as a kind of remote and alien figure.

I've never understood the complaints about this movie which is, I think, much smarter than it gets credit for being. And as far as the craft goes, it's impeccable. The contrast on this front with both THE POST and READY PLAYER ONE is depressing.

User avatar
Werewolf by Night
Posts: 770
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:49 am
Location: Transylvania

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#69 Post by Werewolf by Night » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:34 pm

The craft is impeccable, which contributes to making it such an offensive, emotionally manipulative on every level, slick bill of goods. It represents the apotheosis of the Hollywoodization of the Holocaust (which is already being forgotten, even though it is still within living memory), and will probably and shortly come to be the one cultural artifact that gets assigned to junior high school students to “teach" them about it.

I’m with Claude Lanzmann on this one.

User avatar
Ribs
Posts: 2930
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#70 Post by Ribs » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:47 pm

...probably? Did this post come from twenty years ago? It already reached that point long ago as a cultural touchstone about this subject, but curriculums aren't in a vacuum: my own experience won't encompass everyone's experience, but in my years at a public high school there were lengthy sections detailing the holocaust including the usage of films (which never included Schindler's List for length reasons) in English, History, and Art courses, if not others that are lapsing my mind. You can feel how you can about it, but condemning it because it could become the only symbol of the holocaust people will learn and know seems unnecessarily closed-minded.

Edit:

Hey, look, a good quote about this very thought process putting it better than I did from the first page:
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.

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13644
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#71 Post by swo17 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:01 pm

Loznitsa's fly-on-the-wall doc Austerlitz is a telling illustration of this, as crowds of people tour the sites of old concentration camps with all the reverence one might show at Disneyland.

User avatar
movielocke
Posts: 2369
Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:44 am

Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#72 Post by movielocke » Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:28 pm

Werewolf by Night wrote:The craft is impeccable, which contributes to making it such an offensive, emotionally manipulative on every level, slick bill of goods. It represents the apotheosis of the Hollywoodization of the Holocaust (which is already being forgotten, even though it is still within living memory), and will probably and shortly come to be the one cultural artifact that gets assigned to junior high school students to “teach" them about it.

I’m with Claude Lanzmann on this one.
i love Shoah, but are reverential tracking shots of empty overgrown former concentration camps on overcast days accompanied by talking head interviews with eye witnesses the only effective means of communicating about the holocaust?

I think for many many people the Lanzmann method of communicating about the holocaust is both ineffective and counterproductive (if most students just fall asleep while watching Shoah in class, for example). And for many people, particularly cineastes and historians (and other similar super specialists), the dramatization method of communicating about the holocaust is both ineffective and often counterproductive (if they become more interested in litigating the perceived missteps of their allies in order to bolster their own credentials and profiles).

This is to say, one size does not fit all.

User avatar
Werewolf by Night
Posts: 770
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:49 am
Location: Transylvania

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#73 Post by Werewolf by Night » Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:39 pm

I neither said that I dislike the film solely because it might become the only way people learn about the Holocaust nor that I think Shoah is the best and only film on the Holocaust (merely that I agree with Lanzmann's feelings about Spielberg's film).

User avatar
hearthesilence
Posts: 4246
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:22 am
Location: NYC

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#74 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:28 pm

When I saw Schindler's List as a pre-teen I actually thought it was great. I was pretty familiar with the Holocaust - it was a major topic of study in almost every year of grade school, and a handful of classmates actually had relatives who were survivors of the camps, so on separate occasions, one of them would come in and give a talk. (I remember at least one of them saving everything they had, including papers and a Jewish star they had to wear, and passing them around.) I didn't watch anything but big Hollywood films and who knows how many hours of crap on network television, most of which consisted of sitcoms and cartoons, so within that context, the film was pretty stunning.

I picked up the DVD and tried watching it several times in recent years, and it was definitely not the same experience - now it feels incredibly slick, mainly because it's not a departure from the fundamental storytelling devices you'd see in any commercial film. The subject matter and visual aspects of the film are quite different, but it's still composed of the same nuts and bolts of a commercial film in the way it conveys ideas, character details or plot points to the audience. On top of that, there's a problematic tidiness in the changes Spielberg made to the material - it may have been in the Chicago Tribune or Entertainment Weekly (or possibly elsewhere, I can't remember) but there was an interview where Spielberg defended changing the climax because he couldn't or refused to understand how Schindler left his workers the way he did, which is a shame because how it played out in real life would've worked a lot better, building on the moral contradictions that are the film's biggest strengths.

Regardless of how I feel about it now, I'm not compelled to dismiss it as far as Art Spiegelman and others, because at least as a public service, it's probably a film that can and does reach a significant number of people. The film may not have been intended this way, but I think it's the difference between being a politician or an artist - the lofty aims of a politician aren't the same as those of an artist, and the success a master politician has in connecting with a broad audience is a completely different thing than the success a great artist has in the way they challenge their audience.

I should add one other thing that would undermine my argument: when this film cleaned up on Oscar night (and I should add this was actually a blockbuster, grossing about $100 million in 1993/1994 dollars while holding who knows how many free screenings), you pretty much heard the same thing over and over again, about how we should never forget and never let something like this ever happen again. Several weeks later, all hell broke loose in Rwanda and within a span of a month, that horrendous genocide took place. As you probably know, the Western world refused to do anything - it's widely seen as a shameful act of willful failure. How soon we forget.

User avatar
Ribs
Posts: 2930
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:14 pm

Re: Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

#75 Post by Ribs » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:55 pm

I don't know how much I'd be willing to put it as conscious on Spielberg's part (or how much that even matters), but I think part of the film's brilliance is it's utterly casual, kind of procedural slick approach to horrifying atrocity. The movie wouldn't have made all that money and won all the awards and become a classic if it were as difficult as people seem to want it- the movie, to put it bluntly, is a blast, and utterly thrilling to watch. Totally understand why that may make some people uncomfortable, but this film I think really set that great procedural tone that Spielberg's relied on in almost all of his subsequent "serious" films, rarely faltering.

(One of these days somebody will start a discussion of one of the Spielberg movies I don't really like very much and I won't feel like the biggest sucker sticking my neck out to defend the most famous, wealthy filmmaker of all time)

Post Reply