It's no mistake that I recommend the majority of the movies that I review here. I actively seek out classics, and I wasn't disappointed with the double billing that I took in recently over a bucket of buttery popcorn and a couple rum and cokes. Schindler's List and The Lives of Others.
I'll start with the former, the well-told, yet always disturbing tale of German persecution of European Jewry....the Holocaust, and one man's efforts to save Jews in a forced labor camp deep within Nazi-controlled Poland and Czechoslovakia. I'll spare the details, but suffice it to say, Spielberg's use of black and white cinematography was fitting, as this is a grim story of survival, and far too often, hopeless despair and death. Within this human quagmire, Oskar Schindler, played by Liam Neeson, transforms from a war material entrepreneur hellbent on exploiting a labor force with no future, to a compassionate traitor, with enough money to buy freedom.
A true story, Schindler's List is easily the tour de force of 'Holocaust movies'. Three central characters emerge from the movie. Itzhak Stern, played masterfully by Ben Kingsley, acts as Schindler's confidant and accountant, bridging the gap between German conscience and the the Jewish reality of the war. On the other hand, Amon Leopold Göth is the sadistic, yet internally weak SS prison camp commander, played by Ralph Fiennes. This epic loosely follows the transformation of Schindler, dealing with these two men, and the dependency that they show.
It's a moving film, and I highly recommend to anyone attempting to try to understand such a terrible chapter in modern history. I think it put my wife in labor, to be honest....
Worth the Hype? Absolutely. This is one of those instant classics. It is even better today, than when I initially saw it in 1994. A moving film. Tomorrow, I'll follow up with a take on 'The Lives of Others', a look at the oppressive East German Stasi during the 1980s.