Sunday, July 31, 2011

Can You Believe I Haven't Seen - Schindler's List

This was originally supposed to be a monthly feature and where I definitely have a long list on my bulletin board of movies for this feature, my schedule lately has made this harder than I thought it would be. There are so many new movies to see and I’m currently reading four books simultaneously, that I’m beginning to understand how so many films passed me by.

For July, I watched Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Best Picture, Schindler’s List. I have always wanted to see this movie. It came out at a time when I was a new mother and going to the movies was not on my “to do” list. All the years later, I honestly have never felt up to watching it. You know going in that it’s going to be horribly depressing. I’ve actually felt a little guilty to be honest. It’s an important film that everyone should see. I finally righted the wrong and watched it Saturday night with my husband, who was also viewing it for the first time.

It was different than I expected. Although I knew the film chronicled the life of Oskar Schindler (played by Liam Neeson) during World War II, I did not know that the film basically only focused on this story.

Schindler was a shrewd business man who found a unique way to profit from the war; he employed Jewish refugees in his factory. He was not portrayed in a favorable light at first. He distanced himself from the violence and unfair treatment of the Jewish people, so much so, that he even befriended German Officer Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), a horrible, evil Nazi that revels in torture and power. However, over time Oskar cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the atrocities being done to the Jewish people, especially his accountant and hard working factory employees. He begins to regard them as his friends. He sees their hard work ethic and devotion to each other and to him. As the war rages on, Schindler’s factory fails to make money for him and instead, transforms into a safe haven. Then, when even this idea is no longer adequate, Schindler begins a personal quest to save as many Jewish prisoners as he can.

It’s a fascinating study of the transformation of one human being and a reminder to all of us of the horrors that took place during World War II. I’m a person who cries at the drop of a hat, but while watching this, I was so transfixed and horrified that I was simply frozen. It was hard enough to watch what was going on screen, then to spend a moment ruminating on what was not being shown, was overwhelming.

I never realized that Ralph Fiennes was in this film. I really like Fiennes and it was difficult for me to see him play this character. He did a fantastic job. As did Liam Neeson. For the most part he ended up making the type of films I don’t really watch. I think the last film I saw him in was Nell and that sucked! It was nice to be reminded of what a wonderful actor he is. He made his emotions so believable and as Oskar Schindler morphed into a hero, Neeson never went over the top or made him seem less than a real person doing an extraordinary thing.

So I finally watched this and I’m glad I did. I’m going to try to keep this up with a movie per month. For August, I think I’m going to have to do a complete 180 though. This was very heavy material. Maybe next month, The Big Lebowski?

If you'd like to catch up on other posts in this series click on these!
The Godfather
The Shawshank Redemption


Dan said...

Quite a difficult film to watch but one that has to be seen. I know some people who think this is Spielberg's worst film because of how he handles the events in a way that polarizes the people involved into two distinct camps of good and evil. But I think it is a powerful film nevertheless, and it conveys the horrors of being in a concentration camp really well.

Colleen said...

I know Dan. I was shocked at how much negative feedback I found while surfing the net. I saw that he was bashed by the guy who made Shoah because he felt his was the definitive film on the Holocaust. Does he not realize that an over 9 hour documentary is not going to be for everyone? Plus, I felt Spielberg showed Goeth as a very conflicted man with a lot of issues and Ralph Fiennes turned in a fantastic portrayal. This movie was well done and I think some were upset by the commercial success.

Karen said...

I have a funny story about when I went to this movie. I know - there should not be a funny Schindler's List story...
I bought a bag of twizzler's and I tried to open the bag during the movie and people start yelling at me but honestly there is no good time to make noise during that movie. It reminded me of the Seinfeld episode - I think they were talking during the movie.
Lesson learned. i always open everything before a movie starts now.

JJ said...

You're not alone. I've never seen it and have no intention of seeing it. I have a difficult time attending movies that I know are going to upset me. I prefer to use movie time as an escape into a laughter filled zone.

fogsmoviereviews said...

Congrats on finally checking this one of the list, its definitely a major flick.

Personally, I respect this film, but I've only seen it a couple of times. I just cant past the pain... not a place I want to revisit.

The Big Lebowski's a great one. It would be a total 180, that's for sure!