Schindler's List (1993) Released: December 15, 1993 To put it bluntly, Schindler's List is Steven Spielberg's masterpiece. It's an emotionally devastating film that tells the true story of a German industrialist who saved over a thousand Jewish people during WW II. Regardless of the liberties taken with the details, the overall narrative is true and demonstrates with incredible power how one person can make a difference. Filmed in black and white, Schindler's List feels at times like a documentary of the brutal horrors of the Nazi party, where violence is sudden and sometimes seemingly random. It would be overly simplistic to label it a "good versus evil" story because it is so much more. In fact it might better be described as a "good versus indifference" lesson. When we first meet Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) in 1938 Poland, he is a near-broke businessman who, seeing the impending war as an opportunity for profit, schmoozes with several German officers while acting like their best friend. Later he makes contact with Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), the former bookkeeper of a defunct pots and pans factory. He uses Stern to convince some wealthy Jewish men to invest in and provide funds for the purchase of the factory. Lastly Schindler secures exotic goods on the black market which he in turn gives as gifts to the German officers to encourage their patronage. Soon Schindler is a wealthy man with a successful business and powerful friends. But when German officer Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) arrives in Poland to begin a systematic extermination of the remaining Jews, Oskar's personal disgust at what he is witnessing forces him into action whereby he hopes to save some of the potential victims by employing them in his factory. There was little doubt how the 1994 Oscar ceremony was going to go. As expected Schindler's List took home the top prize and Spielberg won his first Oscar for directing. Upon seeing the film in theater It was first time this viewer witnessed an audience remain totally silent as they made their way from the theater as the credits rolled. The same thing happened at a second theatrical viewing. For many people Schindler's List made the horrors of the Holocaust more palpable than any film before it. And yet, this was a story of hope - that actions can make a difference. Schindler gives up his wealth and sacrifices his safety for what at first may seem like an impossible result. But then the war ends, and Schindler's risks have paid off. His sudden realization of what he's accomplished leads to one of the most emotional moments this viewer has ever experienced while watching a film. The moment he drops that ring... Spielberg abandons his previous stylistic touches to give Schindler's List a completely different feel than his previous films. There are no camera flourishes, no wide-eyed characters beholding something, no obvious inside jokes, etc. There is some mild humor during the early part of the film, such as when a German officer leans over to be photographer with Schindler, intentionally obscuring the woman he's with. But when the first worker is causally executed on the streets (he has only one arm and cannot effectively shovel snow), there is no turning back from Spielberg's unblinking look at the Nazi's brutality. The are moments of sudden violence and humiliation. The film shows just how systematic the Nazi approach was to exterminating all those of the Jewish faith. The character Schindler was never a true member of the Nazi party and is thus disturbed and burdened by what he sees. But he could still have just taken his money and left at any time he wanted. But eventually Schindler can longer remain indifferent. And that may be the true point of Schindler's List: we may be unable to stop evil but there are things we can do to combat it. Realizing he has saved over one thousand people Schindler's only thought during the final moments is that he could have saved even more. While Schindler's List is primarily a director's film Liam Neeson is towering and riveting as Oskar Schindler. He is convincing at every moment of Schindler's transformation and was rewarded with a Best Actor Oscar nomination. Neeson has never been better. The rest of the cast is strong too. Ben Kingsley is excellent as the man running Schindler's business who must maintain a poker face throughout his ordeal. Ralph Fiennes is the picture of villainy as Amon Goeth who is not just following orders but taking delight in murder. But it's the cast that make up the prisoners, with their haggard appearances and frightened eyes that gives Schindler's List its authenticity. We fear for them, weep with them, and hope for their survival. They must conjure such unimaginable strength and courage to survive from day to day. Spielberg shows us some of these real life survivors during the coda, where the survivors, along with their on-screen counterparts, put stones on Oskar Schindler's grave. It is an uplifting scene, ending the film on a note of hope. Steven Spielberg has made some great movies since Schindler's List, such as Saving Private Ryan and last year's Lincoln. But it's hard to imagine him topping this. When the American Film Institute, in 1998 and again in 2007, compiled its list of the 100 greatest movies, Schindler's List placed in the top ten each time. Recent history thus shows recognition of Schindler's List's excellence. More importantly though the film serves as a reminder of what horrors man is capable of, and what good his is capable of too.