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Metropolisforever_00

Schindler's List (1993)

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I know. You aren't allowed to criticize this movie. Anyone who does is either an anti-Semite, a stupid teenybopper, or someone who's just trying to be oppositional. Well, guess what? I don't love this movie. Here's why:

 

1. It's choppy, kitschy, and calculated Hollywood product.

2. It's shallow and one-dimensional.

3. For the entire movie, we get nothing but cynicism and pessimism, and then - right out of nowhere - positivity and joy. Really uncomfortable.

4. No attempt to show the human sides of *ANY* Nazis. They are all paper-cutout maniacs.

5. No insight into the Holocaust or anything else, for that matter.

 

Personally, I think a lot of people love this movie because it's about the Holocaust and was made by Steven Spielberg.

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It's a good movie; certainly not a great one. Reviewers, Academy voters and the public in general often allow themselves to be seduced by the nobility of a film's subject matter and intentions; as a result they then tend to be blinded as to the film's cinematic and dramatic failings.

 

Spielberg has demonstrated, throughhout his career, that he is an inveterate Pollyanna, always in search of the happy ending and/or some excuse for taking the edge off material to make it more commercial. His films are dramatically soft and, often, inexcusably sentimental; he is constitutionally incapable of going after the jugular, regardless of the subject (unlike, say, Billy Wilder, whose affinity for the jugular was unavoidable and legendary. Interestingly, Wilder had sought to make a film of Thomas Keneally's book Schindler's List for years, but his age -- late-70s by then -- boxoffice track record since the mid-1960s, and studio disinterest kept him from doing it. To be fair, only Spielberg's boxoffice Midas-touch did persuade Universal to back the project, but even so, they got cold feet several times).

 

My personal choice to direct the film would have been Fred Zinnemann (informally retired for years by then, or William Wyler, but he'd been dead for several years); either man would've made the unsparing, unsentimental film the subject matter demanded and deserved.

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I never forgave Steven for bringing ET back to life...especially after rolling us through the emotional wringer of watching it die. Cheap sentiment is something that Speilberg is good at.

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> {quote:title=laffite wrote:}{quote}

> I never forgave Steven for bringing ET back to life...especially after rolling us through the emotional wringer of watching it die. Cheap sentiment is something that Speilberg is good at.

 

Your referring to E.T. as "it" instead of "him" suggests that you're probably immune to Spielberg's patented brand of sentimentality, anyway.

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> {quote:title=CineSage_jr wrote:}{quote}

> My personal choice to direct the film would have been Fred Zinnemann (informally retired for years by then, or William Wyler, but he'd been dead for several years); either man would've made the unsparing, unsentimental film the subject matter demanded and deserved.

 

I would agree that the material probably demanded and deserved an unsparing and unsentimental film. However, just to play devil's advocate, if making it a little lighter and more comforting for the viewer helps it to reach a wider audience, has the cause of shining light on the subject been better served?

 

And ultimately I think that if you want to see a movie that is truly shallow and manipulative in its treatment of the Holocaust, you would have to watch a much more recent movie that also happens to star Ralph Fiennes - The Reader.

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While E.T. works as poignant family entertainment, Schindler's List comes off as a particularly contrived Hollywood attempt to reel in the Oscar and make as much money as possible. They didn't want to offer any insight into the Holocaust or Oskar Schindler, they just wanted to make a blockbuster hit. And that is unforgivable.

 

It was originally going to be directed by Martin Scorsese (I'm certainly no fan of him either), but he felt it needed to be directed by someone Jewish, so he turned it over to Spielberg.

 

Spielberg is pretty much responsible for making Hollywood the shallow, cynical place it is today. From the idiotic adventure blockbusters Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark to the aforementioned "Holowood" production. I'm surprised he hasn't released "Schindler's List II" or "Schindler's List: Digitally Enhanced Director's Cut".

 

If you want a good, insightful, unsentimental, and powerful film about the Holocaust, see Sidney Lumet's masterpiece The Pawnbroker (1964). It's the anti-Spielberg.

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To be at least a little fair, Oskar Schindler may just be one of those impenetrable, inscrutable people whose motivations resist dissection or any clear, definitive, final analysis, but he did do what he did, that much is certain, and that makes it notable and worthy of dramatic treatment. That's certainly true in the case of T.E. Lawrence: at the end of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA you really don't know any more about why he did the things he did than you knew before the film began but, as the saying goes, it's all about the journey (which all dramatic stories are, after all), and not the destination.

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> {quote:title=CineSage_jr wrote:}{quote}

> That's certainly true in the case of T.E. Lawrence: at the end of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA you really don't know any more about why he did the things he did than you knew before the film began but, as the saying goes, it's all about the journey (which all dramatic stories are, after all), and not the destination.

 

I don't know about that, CineSage. After watching Lawrence dozens of times, including many 70mm engagements, I think I have a pretty good idea why he did the things he did. But to try to put it into words could take me ages.

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Wow, I am simply stunned at some of the folks on this one BIG-TIME! I've been reviewing new releases since 1982-(the yr of course the wondrous "E.T.' was released) & *Spielberg's magnificent achievement from 1993 is in my view the greatest new film I went to since that movie year. True, it was given even more signifigence due to it's subject matter. However, it is so brilliantly executed, yet of course depressing altogether. Everything works here, at the highest levels possible-(performances, direction, writing, cinematography, art-direction & per usual>*John Williams scoring). True, he always has a bit of over sentiment-("Amistad" "E.T." "Empire of the Sun" & the brilliantly made as well companion pc. to this WW11 epic from '98 "Pvt. Ryan" Which only a couple complained about it's sentiment, at it's finale. Matter of fact "Jaws' may be his sole film that really doesn't have that same aspect, or '74's "Sugarland Express" & "Raiders" from 1981 & many forget his 1971 "Duel") & 1991's "Hook" though a financial hit, sank due to this very stuff. His 1985 "Color Purple' also had almost too much over the top sentiment at times. Though *"Schindler" has nada compared to that picture. I'm not as crazy over his "Munich" though, but thats just me. Which brought him his 6th OSCAR nod for BD to date. Amazingly, he was snubbed for helming "Jaws" despite it being up for the biggie that yr. & *Spielberg was among the 1st filmmakers to really face the hazards of filming almost entirely on the water. He's always said he waited until he was old enough to even tackle the job of making *"Schindler's List" & that he wasn't sure he was mature enough. I don't agree with all of AFI's rankings. In it's 1998 "100yrs...100 Movies' massive survey it came in at No. #9th. & for it's revised special of same title from 2007 it ranked #8th greatest motion picture of all-time. This viewer is inclined to agree. but, thats just me. Thank You

 

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> {quote:title=HollywoodGolightly wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=CineSage_jr wrote:}{quote}

> > That's certainly true in the case of T.E. Lawrence: at the end of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA you really don't know any more about why he did the things he did than you knew before the film began but, as the saying goes, it's all about the journey (which all dramatic stories are, after all), and not the destination.

>

> I don't know about that, CineSage. After watching Lawrence dozens of times, including many 70mm engagements, I think I have a pretty good idea why he did the things he did. But to try to put it into words could take me ages.

 

You may think you do, but nobody can. The character was meant to be maddeningly mysterious, just as the film was meant to be deliberately obscure and imprecise. Anybody who thinks, "Ah! Lawrence decided to enlist criminals in his brigade, and slaughter the entire Turkish column because he earlier had to execute Gassim after rescuring him from the Nefud Desert, and was later sodomized by the Turkish Bey" is simply barking up the wrong tree, and looking for answers where none were provided.

 

LAWRENCE is a film that just as deliberately eschews the usual cause-and-effect that propels most dramas. SCHINDLER tries to do that too but, as the people who made it haven't the talent of those responsible for the earlier film, they don't quite pull it off. As a result, T.E. Lawrence is, and remains, a compelling mystery, whereas Oskar Schindler is merely a cipher.

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He was a poet, a scholar and a mighty warrior. He was also the most shameless exhibitionist since Barnum & Bailey.

 

It is one of the beautiful things about great movies that they can be enjoyed in so many different ways. I enjoy Lawrence in my own way, I suppose, and I'm glad others can enjoy the film in some way.

 

No, I don't suppose we'd ever reach the same conclusions about Lawrence himself.

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But Schindler's List pretends like it knows Schindler's motives. It doesn't, but it refuses to admit so. The psuedo-sentimentality has the opposite effect of seeming icy and cold. It's absolutely artificial from start to finish.

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> {quote:title=Metropolisforever_00 wrote:}{quote}

> But Schindler's List pretends like it knows Schindler's motives.

 

Not the impression I was left with. Guess others didn't feel the same way.

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Forgot to add something that may be of interest. I saw real life footage of Oskar Schindler several yrs after WW11. He rarely if ever wanted any glory or even his photo taken. Not due to possibly being a war criminal just after "The War" It's just that he didn't want any of the credit he was later-(posthumously) given. The man did make some $ back, but never in the same fashion he once had. The ending of the film is also accurate, with them visiting & paying homage to him at is grave site. He was shorter & heavier than Neeson. & looked quite a bit older. & I've also seen actual photos of Amon Goeth-(Ralph Fiennes) in that sequence of him just shooting anything that moved from his balcony. He was heavier then Fiennes, hence the reason he gained wgt for the role. Though I have never caught any shots of the character *Ben Kingsley portrayed. Many were upset he was ignored come OSCAR time though. (TRIVIA: Many may already know this bit, that *Spielberg kinda' cut his teeth directing an episode of a tv show-(name may be "Night Gallery") with>*Joan Crawford) He's been trying to get together a bio of Lincoln & again with>Liam Neeson for sometime now. However, the recent tragedy with the actor may have put it on the backburner for awhile. Does anyone remember the psycho that was stalking the filmmaker around the time of his 1997 "Amistad?" It got the the pt he & his wife feared for their lives!

 

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>Your referring to E.T. as "it" instead of "him" suggests that you're probably immune to Spielberg's patented brand of sentimentality, anyway.

 

And yet I liked Close Encounters..., another "It" movie.

 

So Spielberg's not a total loss. I also liked Jaws and that early TV film and anomaly of the Spielberg canon, Duel.

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Returning to theaters December 7th for its 25th anniversary.  Digitally remastered 4K, Dolby Vision laser projection, with deeper, richer blacks, more contrast, and brightness. Dolby Atmos remixed sound to accommodate advances in theater technology.  The movie is a masterful piece.  The emotion is earned, not sentimental.  It's not about the Holocaust, that's the field of the story.  The film's critics including Kubrick, Haneke, Gilliam, Mamet, Lanzmann have presented their case.  It will be interesting to read what younger film scholars write about it when it hits theaters in December.  Is it now dated, surpassed by the likes of Son of Saul?  Or does it hold up to scrutiny 25 years later?
 

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I'm always baffled why people don't just start a new thread instead of resurrecting one nearly 10 years old to make a completely new point! But to each his or her own ...

I love how the OP didn't like the movie because it didn't make Nazis human enough! I'm sorry, what ...?

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2 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

I'm always baffled why people don't just start a new thread instead of resurrecting one nearly 10 years old to make a completely new point! But to each his or her own ...

I love how the OP didn't like the movie because it didn't make Nazis human enough! I'm sorry, what ...?

Yeah, good point, sewhite.

However, isn't it more than a little ironic that in those 10 years since the OP of this thread made that comment, AND just about one year ago since those ugly events at Charlottesville VA transpired, it now seems there's a whole NEW revival of this kind of sentiment...the sentiment that Nazis can actually somehow BE "human" that is. Well, "human" in the sense of being "HUMANE", anyway!

And MY dictionary defines the word "humane", a word which stems from the word "human", as "having or showing compassion or benevolence". And, I don't recall that ever being the "strong suit" of Nazis.

Well, I think this is more than a little "ironic" here anyway, and the reason I'm pointing this out.

(...yep, ironic AND a very sorrowful turn of events in these intervening 10 years since the OP made that comment)  

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Too bad no one can enter more than one of the offered "reactions" to a post, as Darg's deserved(to me) both a "thanks" AND a "Ha-Ha"  ;)

I think too, what the OP might have been trying for, and missed widely,  was to instead state that not all GERMNS were NAZIS.  Just as not all Russians were Communists and so on....

And SCHINDLER'S LIST proves that point.  And very well IMHO.  And too, possibly another "shouldn't be necessary" reminder that there was indeed a holocaust, as even to this day, I STILL run across dimwits who think it was all "Jewish propaganda".  :blink:  (which means my buddy's grandma tattooed those numbers on her wrist ALL BY HERSELF!  :o )

Sepiatone

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escape from sobibor with alan arkin and rutger hauer is much better than schindler's list.

 

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6 minutes ago, NipkowDisc said:

escape from sobibor with alan arkin and rutger hauer is much better than schindler's list.

No, it's not. But it isn't bad, either, for a TV movie.

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Actually have Schindler's List on DVD and ironically read the book sometime before the movie came out.  Both were educational and entertaining.  Very good book and very good movie.

Can't verify the accuracy, but Wikipedia has an interesting article about Schindler.  He was a Czechoslovakian citizen in the Sudetenland, but of German ancestry.  He was a "spy" for the German military and eventually joined the Nazi party (probably for economic opportunity).  He appeared to have no problem with using slave labor, but tried to be humane about it.  No question he did a lot for "his people" to include risking his life and using his fortune to save many at end of the war.

So, were there "good Nazis?"  Schindler obviously was one, but was he a real Nazi?  Don't confuse Germans with being Nazis.  Just as you shouldn't confuse Southerners with being racists, K l a n  members and so forth.

He was also a bit of a "rogue" even before he went to Poland.  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oskar_Schindler

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On 4/25/2009 at 8:17 PM, Metropolisforever_00 said:

While E.T. works as poignant family entertainment, Schindler's List comes off as a particularly contrived Hollywood attempt to reel in the Oscar and make as much money as possible. They didn't want to offer any insight into the Holocaust or Oskar Schindler, they just wanted to make a blockbuster hit. And that is unforgivable.

 

It was originally going to be directed by Martin Scorsese (I'm certainly no fan of him either), but he felt it needed to be directed by someone Jewish, so he turned it over to Spielberg.

 

Spielberg is pretty much responsible for making Hollywood the shallow, cynical place it is today. From the idiotic adventure blockbusters Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark to the aforementioned "Holowood" production. I'm surprised he hasn't released "Schindler's List II" or "Schindler's List: Digitally Enhanced Director's Cut".

 

If you want a good, insightful, unsentimental, and powerful film about the Holocaust, see Sidney Lumet's masterpiece The Pawnbroker (1964). It's the anti-Spielberg.

 

Heed one of Spielberg's words of wisdom, "There is a time to be a human being and have an opinion, and there is a time to sell cars."

Whether you like it or not, the movie business is business.  Without commercial successes, a million other movies wouldn't get made.

You are free to go after the lack of depth in Schindler's List.  But when you demean "Hollowood" altogether, you don't really have a leg to stand on.  You wouldn't even get to see films like The Pawnbroker without guys like Spielberg making box office hits.

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On 4/25/2009 at 12:58 PM, Metropolisforever_00 said:

I know. You aren't allowed to criticize this movie. Anyone who does is either an anti-Semite, a stupid teenybopper, or someone who's just trying to be oppositional. Well, guess what? I don't love this movie. Here's why:

 

1. It's choppy, kitschy, and calculated Hollywood product.

2. It's shallow and one-dimensional.

3. For the entire movie, we get nothing but cynicism and pessimism, and then - right out of nowhere - positivity and joy. Really uncomfortable.

4. No attempt to show the human sides of *ANY* Nazis. They are all paper-cutout maniacs.

5. No insight into the Holocaust or anything else, for that matter.

 

Personally, I think a lot of people love this movie because it's about the Holocaust and was made by Steven Spielberg.

Whoa, Nellie! A person criticizing "Schindler's List" is really going out on a limb.

I so agree with you, on the premise that some films about worthy topics still can be criticized if one feels the execution is way lacking compared to the seriousness and importance of the topic.

As I've said before, I think Spielberg craved being taken more seriously, after many of his blockbuster films made money but did not accord him the respect he wanted, so he started trying to take on issues in films, which in my opinion were beyond his capabilities. I guess we should applaud him for trying but as Willie Mays once said about Reggie Jackson, just making a heroic effort to catch an outfield fly ball, means nothing no matter how much you roll on the ground, if you don't catch the dang ball!


Thanks for an insightful and deservedly critical post! There are no positives without occasional negatives...

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On 4/25/2009 at 8:17 PM, Metropolisforever_00 said:

While E.T. works as poignant family entertainment, Schindler's List comes off as a particularly contrived Hollywood attempt to reel in the Oscar and make as much money as possible. They didn't want to offer any insight into the Holocaust or Oskar Schindler, they just wanted to make a blockbuster hit. And that is unforgivable.

 

It was originally going to be directed by Martin Scorsese (I'm certainly no fan of him either), but he felt it needed to be directed by someone Jewish, so he turned it over to Spielberg.

 

Spielberg is pretty much responsible for making Hollywood the shallow, cynical place it is today. From the idiotic adventure blockbusters Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark to the aforementioned "Holowood" production. I'm surprised he hasn't released "Schindler's List II" or "Schindler's List: Digitally Enhanced Director's Cut".

 

If you want a good, insightful, unsentimental, and powerful film about the Holocaust, see Sidney Lumet's masterpiece The Pawnbroker (1964). It's the anti-Spielberg.

"The Pawnbroker"! What a great film...

I think Spielberg has a child's mentality, and it shows in his films. For some of them, it is acceptable. For others it is banal and cringeworthy.

One tends to not criticize Spielberg, since I'm sure many love his films. Consequently, I only disregard him because Kurosawa did it first although subtly, and I respect the art of Akira much more than that of Spielberg.

To me he is fine as a journeyman director of mostly fluff or easily discernible movie themes, but when he ventures into more difficult terrain as in focusing on meanings behind the National Socialist party, he is way out of his depth.

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