When I first watched the movie ‘Schindler’s List’ the scene that had a lot of impact on me was the scene where Oskar Schindler breaks down, lamenting how many more lives he could have saved in exchange for his material possessions and the money he had squandered away. I forgot the position of the scene though. Now I know in my revisit to this classic. This scene towards the end, is indeed the jewel in the crown. Just when you think curtains are down, this scene comes from nowhere and holds your attention like no other.
Schindler’s List as a movie does this to you several times during the course of movie watching. Every scene gives you that extra bit, either in terms of story telling or presentation. One cannot but wonder the amount of work that went into making of the movie, into each and every craft of film making. Wonder how Oscar Committee decided to award only Seven!
Here are a few observations.
- Tribute to Master Film maker Orson Welles: Steven Spielberg pays rich tribute to Orson Welles in the introduction scenes of Oskar Schindler and Itzhak Stern, reminiscent of similar scenes between Kane and Joseph Cotten.
- Three Story arcs and how they take the movie forward: Schindler’s list has three story arcs–the ebbs and tides of war, plight of jews from bad to worse to glimmer of hope and character transformation of Oskar Schindler. It is terrific to see how the story of Schindler takes the movie forward across the other two story arcs. His transformation becomes the glimmer of hope for the jews under persecution. Finally, his cathartic moment beocmes the start point of a new journey for his Jew workers.
- Finest acting performances : All the lead cast put in their best for the movie. There are several scenes in which actors emote on their own, like Ralph Fiennes looking into the mirror before killing a young boy or Liam Neeson pondering on his inner tumult or Ben Kingsley’s minimalist expressions. But the real gems are all the combination scenes where these great actors bring the best in others. Let it be the terrace scene where Liam Neeson guides Ralph to the real meaning of power or his irritation when Ben Kingsley doesn’t enjoy his admiration for his contribution or simply when Ben Kingsley presents the ring to Neeson in the end of the movie.
- The man behind the scenes–Steven Spielberg: Spielberg brings all the very best from himself and the rest of the team for this movie. Production Design, Sound Design, Editing, Music…you name it, has excellence written all over it. At the end of the movie you cannot wonder if anyone else would have brought so many shades to this movie and still be able capture all those in black and white. And he succeeds in portraying humanity during one of the darkest times of human history.
Tailpiece: Who could have imagined the little girl in red other than Mr.E.T.Spielberg?
NYTimes on Spielberg’s Oscar win.
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