The best Holocaust movie ever made is Life is Beautiful. However, since Life is Beautiful came out in 1997, there has to have been another film that held the title before Benigni’s comic masterpiece came along and snatched it away. That film is Schindler’s List.
Schindler’s List is the true story of Oscar Schindler, a Nazi party member, a war profiteer, and a man responsible for saving the lives of over 2000 Jews in the Holocaust. As would be expected from the majority of Holocaust movies, Schindler’s List is a film that you cannot say you love without feeling like a total schmuck (or, practicing my Yiddish again, being very Vashnuked). However Schindler’s List is what you would call an endearing film.
Schindler’s List utilizes a stark score by John Williams and a black & white photography by Janusz Kaminski in order to provide the full effect of the Holocaust: utter depression and hopelessness. The film is about as depressing to watch as Leaving Las Vegas. However, despite the desire to use a Smith & Wesson on yourself while watching this movie, the film manages to compel your interest.
Zaillian’s script is right on target: pulling us in at the beginning with the story of Oscar’s brilliant (although narcissistic) formation of a business out of nothing. The business exploits the Jew so much that you begin to wonder if you are watching the wrong movie. However, after Schindler witnesses the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto (still the most touching bunch of celluloid I have ever watched), he begins to work subversively against the Germans and for the Jews.
The one thing that weakens the film is the presence of humor. If a movie is going for the absolute drab, as Schindler’s List did, it would be a good idea to not try to lighten a moment by adding in a joke that you would find in a second-rate comedy. Humor has never been Zaillian’s strongpoint, and he shouldn’t have tried to start.
Regardless, Schindler’s List is still the best movie that Spielberg ever made, and the second-best film about the Holocaust. Schindler’s List is a true dramatic classic, capable of making anyone cry.
See Nazis run.