By Luke Taylor (Ireland)
Humanity Saves The World
Schindler’s List, directed by Steven Spielberg, is a film that was released in the year 1993. A factual film, it documents the heroics of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of over 1,000 Jewish people in occupied Poland during the Holocaust.
The film opens with a Jewish family celebrating the Sabbath. After the candles are lit, the grandfather, presumably a rabbi, sings the blessing. The family are only seen gathered around the table for approximately 10 seconds, and then they are gone. But in this particular scene, even after the family has vanished, we still hear the song of the grandfather. His voice continues to sing until the candles have completely burned out. This is a very important scene, as it almost serves as a prelude to the main film.
The family at the table could represent Europe before the Holocaust, their vanishing could represent the disappearance of the Jews throughout central Europe, the candle burning out could symbolise the loss of life, but the continuing song of the grandfather could represent the fact that even the Nazis succeeded in killing the Jewish people, they would never be able to kill their Jewish spirit. It should also be noted that this is one of the few scenes of the film to be shot in colour. Spielberg did a good job of using colour in the scenes that denoted goodness or humanity.
The only potential downside of the film is the length. At 3 hours and 15 minutes, it is a relatively long film, but historians may argue that all this time was essential to document everything that went on in the background, such as Oskar Schindler’s origins and what he was involved in before coming into contact with the Jewish people, and what gradually brought him to his new role as a saver of lives.
The film is notable for its several tense and poignant scenes, such as the girl in the red dress who appears during the liquidation of the Jewish ghetto in Krakow, the rabbi who narrowly avoids execution, and the shower scene in Auschwitz extermination camp, the latter being particularly poignant. On the one hand, we are relieved that the women are not killed in the gas chamber but instead were just sent to an ordinary shower room (despite this being a historical inaccuracy, as all the communal shower-heads in Auschwitz-Birkenau were false and purely to deceive the incoming victims).
At the end of the film we hear that Israeli song, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav’ (Jerusalem of Gold). This song accompanies the liberated Schindler Jews and succeeds in lightening the atmosphere. But this is actually a goof. In reality, the song was written in 1967, and therefore would not have been heard or sung during the Holocaust. The audience in Israel actually laughed at the inclusion of this song. Fortunately, this historical inaccuracy is almost certain to be missed.
I recommend this deep and incredibly moving film to anyone who is interested in history or in the Holocaust, and also to those who wish to learn how humanity saves the whole world. It is definitely worth sitting through the relatively long duration of the film and watching until the very end. You will want to watch it again!