Schindler’s List (1993)


Introduction

Schindler’s List is a 1993 American epic historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Steven Zaillian.

It is based on the 1982 historical fiction novel Schindler’s Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally.

Outline

In Kraków during World War II, the Germans force local Polish Jews into the overcrowded Kraków Ghetto. Oskar Schindler, a German member of the Nazi Party from Czechoslovakia, arrives in the city, hoping to make his fortune. Schindler bribes Wehrmacht (German armed forces) and SS officials, acquiring a factory to produce enamelware. Schindler hires Itzhak Stern, a Jewish official with contacts among black marketeers and the Jewish business community; he handles administration and helps Schindler arrange financing. Stern ensures that as many Jewish workers as possible are deemed essential to the German war effort to prevent them from being taken by the SS to concentration camps or killed. Meanwhile, Schindler maintains friendly relations with the Nazis and enjoys wealth and status as “Herr Direktor”.

SS-Untersturmführer (second lieutenant) Amon Göth arrives in Kraków to oversee construction of the Płaszów concentration camp. When the camp is ready, he orders the ghetto liquidated: two thousand Jews are transported to Płaszów, and two thousand others are killed in the streets by the SS. Schindler witnesses the massacre and is profoundly affected. He particularly notices a young girl in a red coat who hides from the Nazis and later sees her body on a wagonload of corpses. Schindler is careful to maintain his friendship with Göth and continues to enjoy SS support, mostly through bribery. Göth brutalises his Jewish maid Helen Hirsch and randomly shoots people from the balcony of his villa; the prisoners are in constant fear for their lives. As time passes, Schindler’s focus shifts from making money to trying to save as many lives as possible. To better protect his workers, Schindler bribes Göth into allowing him to build a sub-camp.

As the Germans begin losing the war, Göth is ordered to ship the remaining Jews at Płaszów to Auschwitz concentration camp. Schindler asks Göth for permission to move his workers to a munitions factory he plans to build in Brünnlitz near his home town Zwittau. Göth reluctantly agrees, but charges a huge bribe. Schindler and Stern create “Schindler’s List” – a list of 850 people to be transferred to Brünnlitz instead of Auschwitz.

As the Jewish workers are transported by train to Brünnlitz, the women and girls are mistakenly redirected to Auschwitz-Birkenau; Schindler bribes Rudolf Höss, commandant of Auschwitz, for their release. At the new factory, Schindler forbids the SS guards from entering the factory floor without permission and encourages the Jews to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Over the next seven months, he spends his fortune bribing Nazi officials and buying shell casings from other companies; because of Schindler’s machinations, the factory does not produce any usable armaments. Schindler runs out of money in 1945, just as Germany surrenders.

As a Nazi Party member and war profiteer, Schindler must flee the advancing Red Army to avoid capture. The SS guards in Schindler’s factory have been ordered to kill the Jewish workforce, but Schindler persuades them to “return to [their] families as men, instead of murderers”. Bidding farewell to his workers, he prepares to head west, hoping to surrender to the Americans. The workers give him a signed statement attesting to his role in saving Jewish lives and present him with a ring engraved with a Talmudic quotation: “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire”. Schindler is both touched and ashamed, feeling he should have done more. He breaks down in tears and is comforted by the workers before he and his wife leave in their car. When the Schindlerjuden awaken the next morning, a Soviet soldier announces that they have been liberated. The Jews walk to a nearby town.

An epilogue reveals that Göth was executed, and Schindler had failed in both business and marriage following the war. In the present, many of the surviving Schindlerjuden and the actors portraying them visit Schindler’s grave and place stones on its marker (the traditional Jewish sign of respect on visiting a grave), with Liam Neeson laying two roses.

Cast

  • Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler.
  • Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern.
  • Ralph Fiennes as Amon Göth.
  • Caroline Goodall as Emilie Schindler.
  • Jonathan Sagall as Poldek Pfefferberg.
  • Embeth Davidtz as Helen Hirsch.
  • Małgorzata Gebel as Wiktoria Klonowska.
  • Mark Ivanir as Marcel Goldberg.
  • Beatrice Macola as Ingrid.
  • Andrzej Seweryn as Julian Scherner.
  • Friedrich von Thun as Rolf Czurda.
  • Jerzy Nowak as Investor.
  • Norbert Weisser as Albert Hujar.
  • Miri Fabian as Chaja Dresner.
  • Anna Mucha as Danka Dresner.
  • Adi Nitzan as Mila Pfefferberg.
  • Piotr Polk as Leo Rosner.
  • Rami Heuberger as Joseph Bau.
  • Ezra Dagan as Rabbi Menasha Lewartow.
  • Elina Löwensohn as Diana Reiter.
  • Hans-Jörg Assmann as Julius Madritsch.
  • Hans-Michael Rehberg as Rudolf Höß.
  • Daniel Del Ponte as Josef Mengele.
  • August Schmölzer as Dieter Reeder.
  • Ludger Pistor as Josef Leipold.
  • Oliwia Dąbrowska as the Girl in Red.
  • Jan Jurewicz as a Soviet soldier.

Production

Development

Pfefferberg, one of the Schindlerjuden, made it his life’s mission to tell the story of his saviour. Pfefferberg attempted to produce a biopic of Oskar Schindler with MGM in 1963, with Howard Koch writing, but the deal fell through. In 1982, Thomas Keneally published his historical novel Schindler’s Ark, which he wrote after a chance meeting with Pfefferberg in Los Angeles in 1980. MCA president Sid Sheinberg sent director Steven Spielberg a New York Times review of the book. Spielberg, astounded by Schindler’s story, jokingly asked if it was true. “I was drawn to it because of the paradoxical nature of the character,” he said. “What would drive a man like this to suddenly take everything he had earned and put it all in the service of saving these lives?” Spielberg expressed enough interest for Universal Pictures to buy the rights to the novel. At their first meeting in spring 1983, he told Pfefferberg he would start filming in ten years. In the end credits of the film, Pfefferberg is credited as a consultant under the name Leopold Pag.

Spielberg was unsure if he was mature enough to make a film about the Holocaust, and the project remained “on [his] guilty conscience”. Spielberg tried to pass the project to director Roman Polanski, who turned it down. Polanski’s mother was killed at Auschwitz, and he had lived in and survived the Kraków Ghetto. Polanski eventually directed his own Holocaust drama The Pianist (2002). Spielberg also offered the film to Sydney Pollack and Martin Scorsese, who was attached to direct Schindler’s List in 1988. However, Spielberg was unsure of letting Scorsese direct the film, as “I’d given away a chance to do something for my children and family about the Holocaust.” Spielberg offered him the chance to direct the 1991 remake of Cape Fear instead. Billy Wilder expressed an interest in directing the film as a memorial to his family, most of whom were murdered in the Holocaust. Brian De Palma also turned down an offer to direct.

Spielberg finally decided to take on the project when he noticed that Holocaust deniers were being given serious consideration by the media. With the rise of neo-Nazism after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he worried that people were too accepting of intolerance, as they were in the 1930s. Sid Sheinberg greenlit the film on condition that Spielberg made Jurassic Park first. Spielberg later said, “He knew that once I had directed Schindler I wouldn’t be able to do Jurassic Park.” The picture was assigned a small budget of $22 million, as Holocaust films are not usually profitable. Spielberg forwent a salary for the film, calling it “blood money”, and believed the film would flop.

In 1983, Keneally was hired to adapt his book, and he turned in a 220-page script. His adaptation focused on Schindler’s numerous relationships, and Keneally admitted he did not compress the story enough. Spielberg hired Kurt Luedtke, who had adapted the screenplay of Out of Africa, to write the next draft. Luedtke gave up almost four years later, as he found Schindler’s change of heart too unbelievable. During his time as director, Scorsese hired Steven Zaillian to write a script. When he was handed back the project, Spielberg found Zaillian’s 115-page draft too short, and asked him to extend it to 195 pages. Spielberg wanted more focus on the Jews in the story, and he wanted Schindler’s transition to be gradual and ambiguous, not a sudden breakthrough or epiphany. He extended the ghetto liquidation sequence, as he “felt very strongly that the sequence had to be almost unwatchable.”

Casting

Neeson auditioned as Schindler early on, and was cast in December 1992, after Spielberg saw him perform in Anna Christie on Broadway. Warren Beatty participated in a script reading, but Spielberg was concerned that he could not disguise his accent and that he would bring “movie star baggage”. Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson expressed interest in portraying Schindler, but Spielberg preferred to cast the relatively unknown Neeson, so the actor’s star quality would not overpower the character. Neeson felt Schindler enjoyed outsmarting the Nazis, who regarded him as a bit of a buffoon. “They don’t quite take him seriously, and he used that to full effect.” To help him prepare for the role, Spielberg showed Neeson film clips of Time Warner CEO Steve Ross, who had a charisma that Spielberg compared to Schindler’s. He also located a tape of Schindler speaking, which Neeson studied to learn the correct intonations and pitch.

Fiennes was cast as Amon Göth after Spielberg viewed his performances in A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. Spielberg said of Fiennes’ audition that “I saw sexual evil. It is all about subtlety: there were moments of kindness that would move across his eyes and then instantly run cold.” Fiennes put on 28 pounds (13 kg) to play the role. He watched historic newsreels and talked to Holocaust survivors who knew Göth. In portraying him, Fiennes said “I got close to his pain. Inside him is a fractured, miserable human being. I feel split about him, sorry for him. He’s like some dirty, battered doll I was given and that I came to feel peculiarly attached to.” Doctors Samuel J. Leistedt and Paul Linkowski of the Université libre de Bruxelles describe Göth’s character in the film as a classic psychopath. Fiennes looked so much like Göth in costume that when Mila Pfefferberg met him, she trembled with fear.

The character of Itzhak Stern (played by Ben Kingsley) is a composite of the accountant Stern, factory manager Abraham Bankier, and Göth’s personal secretary, Mietek Pemper. The character serves as Schindler’s alter ego and conscience. Dustin Hoffman was offered the role but turned it down.

Overall, there are 126 speaking parts in the film. Thousands of extras were hired during filming. Spielberg cast Israeli and Polish actors specially chosen for their Eastern European appearance. Many of the German actors were reluctant to don the SS uniform, but some of them later thanked Spielberg for the cathartic experience of performing in the movie. Halfway through the shoot, Spielberg conceived the epilogue, where 128 survivors pay their respects at Schindler’s grave in Jerusalem. The producers scrambled to find the Schindlerjuden and fly them in to film the scene.

Filming

Principal photography began on 01 March 1993 in Kraków, Poland, with a planned schedule of 75 days. The crew shot at or near the actual locations, though the Płaszów camp had to be reconstructed in a nearby abandoned quarry, as modern high rise apartments were visible from the site of the original camp. Interior shots of the enamelware factory in Kraków were filmed at a similar facility in Olkusz, while exterior shots and the scenes on the factory stairs were filmed at the actual factory. The production received permission from Polish authorities to film on the grounds of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, but objections to filming within the actual death camp were raised by the World Jewish Congress. To avoid filming inside the actual death camp, the film crew constructed a replica of a portion of the camp just outside the entrance of Birkenau.

There were some antisemitic incidents. A woman who encountered Fiennes in his Nazi uniform told him that “the Germans were charming people. They didn’t kill anybody who didn’t deserve it”. Antisemitic symbols were scrawled on billboards near shooting locations, while Kingsley nearly entered a brawl with an elderly German-speaking businessman who insulted Israeli actor Michael Schneider. Nonetheless, Spielberg stated that at Passover, “all the German actors showed up. They put on yarmulkes and opened up Haggadas, and the Israeli actors moved right next to them and began explaining it to them. And this family of actors sat around and race and culture were just left behind.”

I was hit in the face with my personal life. My upbringing. My Jewishness. The stories my grandparents told me about the Shoah. And Jewish life came pouring back into my heart. I cried all the time. Spielberg on his emotional state during the shoot.

Shooting Schindler’s List was deeply emotional for Spielberg, as the subject matter forced him to confront elements of his childhood, such as the antisemitism he faced. He was surprised that he did not cry while visiting Auschwitz; instead, he found himself filled with outrage. He was one of many crew members who could not force themselves to watch during the shooting of the scene where aging Jews are forced to run naked while being selected by Nazi doctors to go to Auschwitz. Spielberg commented that he felt more like a reporter than a film maker – he would set up scenes and then watch events unfold, almost as though he were witnessing them rather than creating a movie. Several actresses broke down when filming the shower scene, including one who was born in a concentration camp. Spielberg, his wife Kate Capshaw, and their five children rented a house in suburban Kraków for the duration of filming. He later thanked his wife “for rescuing me ninety-two days in a row … when things just got too unbearable”. Robin Williams called Spielberg to cheer him up, given the profound lack of humour on the set. Spielberg spent several hours each evening editing Jurassic Park, which was scheduled to premiere in June 1993.

Spielberg occasionally used German and Polish language dialogue to create a sense of realism. He initially considered making the film entirely in those languages, but decided “there’s too much safety in reading [subtitles]. It would have been an excuse [for the audience] to take their eyes off the screen and watch something else.”

Cinematography

Influenced by the 1985 documentary film Shoah, Spielberg decided not to plan the film with storyboards, and to shoot it like a documentary. Forty percent of the film was shot with handheld cameras, and the modest budget meant the film was shot quickly over seventy-two days. Spielberg felt that this gave the film “a spontaneity, an edge, and it also serves the subject.” He filmed without using Steadicams, elevated shots, or zoom lenses, “everything that for me might be considered a safety net.” This matured Spielberg, who felt that in the past he had always been paying tribute to directors such as Cecil B. DeMille or David Lean.

Spielberg decided to use black and white to match the feel of documentary footage of the era. Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński compared the effect to German Expressionism and Italian neorealism. Kamiński said that he wanted to give the impression of timelessness to the film, so the audience would “not have a sense of when it was made.” Universal chairman Tom Pollock asked him to shoot the film on a colour negative, to allow colour VHS copies of the film to later be sold, but Spielberg did not want to accidentally “beautify events.”

Music

John Williams, who frequently collaborates with Spielberg, composed the score for Schindler’s List. The composer was amazed by the film, and felt it would be too challenging. He said to Spielberg, “You need a better composer than I am for this film.” Spielberg responded, “I know. But they’re all dead!” Itzhak Perlman performs the theme on the violin.

In the scene where the ghetto is being liquidated by the Nazis, the folk song Oyfn Pripetshik (Yiddish: אויפֿן פּריפּעטשיק‎, ‘On the Cooking Stove’) is sung by a children’s choir. The song was often sung by Spielberg’s grandmother, Becky, to her grandchildren. The clarinet solos heard in the film were recorded by Klezmer virtuoso Giora Feidman. Williams won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for Schindler’s List, his fifth win. Selections from the score were released on a soundtrack album.

Themes and Symbolism

The film explores the theme of good and evil, using as its main protagonist a “good German”, a popular characterisation in American cinema. While Göth is characterised as an almost completely dark and evil person, Schindler gradually evolves from Nazi supporter to rescuer and hero. Thus a second theme of redemption is introduced as Schindler, a disreputable schemer on the edges of respectability, becomes a father figure responsible for saving the lives of more than a thousand people.

The Girl in Red

Schindler sees a girl in red during the liquidation of the Kraków ghetto. The red coat is one of the few instances of colour used in this predominantly black and white film.

While the film is shot primarily in black and white, a red coat is used to distinguish a little girl in the scene depicting the liquidation of the Kraków ghetto. Later in the film, Schindler sees her exhumed dead body, recognisable only by the red coat she is still wearing. Spielberg said the scene was intended to symbolise how members of the highest levels of government in the United States knew the Holocaust was occurring, yet did nothing to stop it. “It was as obvious as a little girl wearing a red coat, walking down the street, and yet nothing was done to bomb the German rail lines. Nothing was being done to slow down … the annihilation of European Jewry,” he said. “So that was my message in letting that scene be in color.” Andy Patrizio of IGN notes that the point at which Schindler sees the girl’s dead body is the point at which he changes, no longer seeing “the ash and soot of burning corpses piling up on his car as just an annoyance.” Professor André H. Caron of the Université de Montréal wonders if the red symbolises “innocence, hope or the red blood of the Jewish people being sacrificed in the horror of the Holocaust.”

The girl was portrayed by Oliwia Dąbrowska, three years old at the time of filming. Spielberg asked Dąbrowska not to watch the film until she was eighteen, but she watched it when she was eleven, and says she was “horrified”. Upon seeing the film again as an adult, she was proud of the role she played. The character is unintentionally similar to Roma Ligocka, who was known in the Kraków Ghetto for her red coat. Ligocka, unlike her fictional counterpart, survived the Holocaust. After the film was released, she wrote and published her own story, The Girl in the Red Coat: A Memoir (2002, in translation). The girl in red may have been inspired by Kraków resident Genya Gitel Chil, according to a 2014 interview of her family members.

Candles

The opening scene features a family observing Shabbat. Spielberg said that “to start the film with the candles being lit … would be a rich bookend, to start the film with a normal Shabbat service before the juggernaut against the Jews begins.” When the colour fades out in the film’s opening moments, it gives way to a world in which smoke comes to symbolize bodies being burnt at Auschwitz. Only at the end, when Schindler allows his workers to hold Shabbat services, do the images of candle fire regain their warmth. For Spielberg, they represent “just a glint of color, and a glimmer of hope.” Sara Horowitz, director of the Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University, sees the candles as a symbol for the Jews of Europe, killed and then burned in the crematoria. The two scenes bracket the Nazi era, marking its beginning and end. She points out that normally, the woman of the house lights the Sabbath candles. In the film, it is men who perform this ritual, demonstrating not only the subservient role of women, but also the subservient position of Jewish men in relation to Aryan men, especially Göth and Schindler.

Other Symbolism

To Spielberg, the black and white presentation of the film came to represent the Holocaust itself: “The Holocaust was life without light. For me the symbol of life is color. That’s why a film about the Holocaust has to be in black-and-white.” Robert Gellately notes the film in its entirety can be seen as a metaphor for the Holocaust, with early sporadic violence increasing into a crescendo of death and destruction. He also notes a parallel between the situation of the Jews in the film and the debate in Nazi Germany between making use of the Jews for slave labour or exterminating them outright. Water is seen as giving deliverance by Alan Mintz, Holocaust Studies professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York. He notes its presence in the scene where Schindler arranges for a Holocaust train loaded with victims awaiting transport to be hosed down, and the scene in Auschwitz, where the women are given an actual shower instead of receiving the expected gassing.

Release

Schindler’s List opened in theatres on 15 December 1993 in the United States and 25 December in Canada. Its premiere in Germany was on 01 March 1994. Its US network television premiere was on NBC on 23 February 1997. Shown without commercials, it ranked No. 3 for the week with a 20.9/31 rating/share, the highest Nielsen rating for any film since NBC’s broadcast of Jurassic Park in May 1995. The film aired on public television in Israel on Holocaust Memorial Day in 1998.

The DVD was released on 09 March 2004 in widescreen and full screen editions, on a double-sided disc with the feature film beginning on side A and continuing on side B. Special features include a documentary introduced by Spielberg. Also released for both formats was a limited edition gift set, which included the widescreen version of the film, Keneally’s novel, the film’s soundtrack on CD, a senitype, and a photo booklet titled Schindler’s List: Images of the Steven Spielberg Film, all housed in a plexiglass case. The laserdisc gift set was a limited edition that included the soundtrack, the original novel, and an exclusive photo booklet. As part of its 20th anniversary, the film was released on Blu-ray Disc on 05 March 2013. The film was digitally remastered in 4K, Dolby Vision and Atmos and was reissued into theatres on 07 December 2018 for its 25th anniversary. The film was released on Ultra HD Blu-ray on 18 December 2018.

Following the success of the film, Spielberg founded the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, a non-profit organisation with the goal of providing an archive for the filmed testimony of as many survivors of the Holocaust as possible, to save their stories. He continues to finance that work. Spielberg used proceeds from the film to finance several related documentaries, including Anne Frank Remembered (1995), The Lost Children of Berlin (1996), and The Last Days (1998).

Reception

Schindler’s List received acclaim from both film critics and audiences, with Americans such as talk show host Oprah Winfrey and President Bill Clinton urging their countrymen to see it. World leaders in many countries saw the film, and some met personally with Spielberg.

Schindler’s List was very well received by many of Spielberg’s peers.

Box Office

The film grossed $96.1 million ($172 million in 2020 dollars) in the United States and Canada and over $321.2 million worldwide. In Germany, the film was viewed by over 100,000 people in its first week alone from 48 screens and was eventually shown in 500 theatres (including 80 paid for by municipal authorities), with a total of six million admissions and a gross of $38 million. Its 25th anniversary showings grossed $551,000 in 1,029 theatres.

Accolades

Schindler’s List featured on a number of “best of” lists, including the TIME magazine’s Top Hundred as selected by critics Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel, Time Out magazine’s 100 Greatest Films Centenary Poll conducted in 1995, and Leonard Maltin’s “100 Must See Movies of the Century”. The Vatican named Schindler’s List among the most important 45 films ever made. A Channel 4 poll named Schindler’s List the ninth greatest film of all time, and it ranked fourth in their 2005 war films poll. The film was named the best of 1993 by critics such as James Berardinelli, Roger Ebert, and Gene Siskel. Deeming the film “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2004. Spielberg won the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Feature Film for his work, and shared the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture with co-producers Branko Lustig and Gerald R. Molen. Steven Zaillian won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The film also won the National Board of Review for Best Film, along with the National Society of Film Critics for Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Cinematography. Awards from the New York Film Critics Circle were also won for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Cinematographer. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association awarded the film for Best Film, Best Cinematography (tied with The Piano), and Best Production Design. The film also won numerous other awards and nominations worldwide.

Controversies

In Malaysia the film was initially banned, with the censors suggesting it seemed to be Jewish propaganda, informing the distributor that “The story reflects the privilege and virtues of a certain race only” and “It seems the illustration is propaganda with the purpose of asking for sympathy as well as to tarnish the other race.” In the Philippines, chief censor Henrietta Mendez ordered cuts of three scenes depicting sexual intercourse and female nudity before the movie could be shown in theatres. Spielberg refused, and pulled the film from screening in Philippine cinemas, which prompted the Senate to demand the abolition of the censorship board. President Fidel V. Ramos himself intervened, ruling that the movie could be shown uncut to anyone over the age of 15.

Commemorative plaque at Emalia, Schindler’s factory in Kraków

According to Slovak filmmaker Juraj Herz, the scene in which a group of women confuse an actual shower with a gas chamber is taken directly, shot by shot, from his film Zastihla mě noc (Night Caught Up with Me, 1986). Herz wanted to sue, but was unable to fund the case.

The song “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of Gold”) is featured in the film’s soundtrack and plays near the end of the film. This caused some controversy in Israel, as the song (which was written in 1967 by Naomi Shemer) is widely considered an informal anthem of the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War. In Israeli prints of the film the song was replaced with “Halikha LeKesariya” (“A Walk to Caesarea”) by Hannah Szenes, a World War II resistance fighter.

For the 1997 American television showing, the film was broadcast virtually unedited. The telecast was the first to receive a TV-M (now TV-MA) rating under the TV Parental Guidelines that had been established earlier that year. Tom Coburn, then an Oklahoma congressman, said that in airing the film, NBC had brought television “to an all-time low, with full-frontal nudity, violence and profanity”, adding that it was an insult to “decent-minded individuals everywhere”. Under fire from both Republicans and Democrats, Coburn apologised, saying, “My intentions were good, but I’ve obviously made an error in judgment in how I’ve gone about saying what I wanted to say.” He clarified his opinion, stating that the film ought to have been aired later at night when there would not be “large numbers of children watching without parental supervision”.

Controversy arose in Germany for the film’s television premiere on ProSieben. Protests among the Jewish community ensued when the station intended to televise it with two commercial breaks of 3-4 minutes each. Ignatz Bubis, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said: “It is problematic to interrupt such a movie by commercials”. Jerzy Kanal, chairman of the Jewish Community of Berlin, added “It is obvious that the film could have a greater impact [on society] when broadcast unimpeded by commercials. The station has to do everything possible to broadcast the film without interruption.” As a compromise, the broadcast included one break consisting of a short news update framed with commercials. ProSieben was also obliged to broadcast two accompanying documentaries to the film, showing “The daily lives of the Jews in Hebron and New York” prior to broadcast and “The survivors of the Holocaust” afterwards.

Effect on Kraków

Due to the increased interest in Kraków created by the film, the city bought Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory in 2007 to create a permanent exhibition about the German occupation of the city from 1939 to 1945. The museum opened in June 2010.

Trivia

  • To gather costumes for 20,000 extras, the costume designer took out advertisements seeking clothes.
    • As economic conditions were poor in Poland, many people were eager to sell clothing they still owned from the 1930s and 1940s.
  • When survivor Mila Pfefferberg was introduced to Ralph Fiennes on the set, she began shaking uncontrollably, as he reminded her too much of the real Amon Goeth.
  • The original missing list of Schindler’s Jews was found in a suitcase together with his written legacy hidden in the attic of Schindler’s flat in Hildesheim in 1999.
    • Oskar Schindler stayed there during the last few months before his death in 1974.
  • Steven Spielberg initially intended to make the film in Polish and German with English subtitles, but rethought the idea because he felt he would not be able to accurately assess performances in unfamiliar languages.
  • The person who places the flower on top of the stones in the closing credits is Liam Neeson, and not Steven Spielberg, as some people think.
  • In reality, it was not Itzhak Stern who helped Oskar Schindler put the list together, but Marcel Goldberg.
    • Many survivors who speak of Goldberg do so with disdain, as he was unscrupulous in deciding who ended up on the list, reportedly accepting bribes from some survivors, taking names off the list to add theirs instead.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Steven Spielberg.
  • Producer(s):
    • Irving Glovin … associate producer.
    • Kathleen Kennedy … executive producer.
    • Branko Lustig … producer.
    • Gerald R. Molen … producer.
    • Robert Raymond … associate producer.
    • Lew Rywin … co-producer.
    • Steven Spielberg … producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • Thomas Keneally … (book).
    • Steven Zaillian … (screenplay).
  • Music:
    • John Williams.
  • Cinematography:
    • Janusz Kaminski (director of photography).
  • Editor(s):
    • Michael Kahn.
  • Production:
    • Universal Pictures (presents) (A Film by Steven Spielberg).
    • Amblin Entertainment (as An Amblin Entertainment Production).
  • Distributor(s):
    • Universal Pictures (1993) (USA) (theatrical).
    • Lucernafilm – Alfa (1994) (Czechia) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Films of India (1994) (India) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Argentina) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2019) (Argentina) (theatrical) (through) (25th anniversary edition).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Australia) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Brazil) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Germany) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Denmark) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Spain) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Finland) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (France) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (South Korea) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (UK) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Hungary) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Italy) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Japan) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Mexico) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Netherlands) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Norway) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (2019) (Poland) (theatrical) (25th anniversary edition).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Sweden) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Turkey) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Taiwan) (theatrical).
    • Universal Pictures Argentina (2019) (Argentina) (theatrical) (through United International Pictures) (25th anniversary edition).
    • Universal Pictures International (UPI) (2019) (Spain) (theatrical) (re-release) (25th anniversary edition)
    • 9Gem (2020) (Australia) (TV).
    • Argentina Video Home (1994) (Argentina) (VHS).
    • Argentina Video Home (2004) (Argentina) (DVD).
    • Argentina Video Home (2004) (Argentina) (VHS).
    • Argentina Video Home (2010) (Argentina) (DVD) (Colección Mejor Película).
    • Argentina Video Home (2013) (Argentina) (DVD) (Ganadoras del Oscar Collection).
    • CIC Video (1994) (Germany) (VHS).
    • CIC Video (1994) (Finland) (VHS).
    • CIC Video (1994) (UK) (VHS).
    • CIC Video (1994) (Italy) (VHS).
    • CIC Video (1994) (Netherlands) (VHS).
    • CIC Video (1994) (Norway) (VHS).
    • CIC Video (1994) (Sweden) (VHS).
    • CIC Vídeo (Brazil) (VHS).
    • CIC-Taft Home Video (1995) (Australia) (VHS).
    • CIC-Taft Home Video (1997) (Australia) (VHS).
    • HBO Nordic (2014) (Norway) (video) (VOD).
    • MCA Home Video (1994) (Canada) (VHS).
    • MCA/Universal Home Video (1994) (USA) (VHS).
    • MCA/Universal Home Video (1994) (USA) (video) (laserdisc).
    • NRK2 (2006) (Norway) (TV).
    • NRK2 (2016) (Norway) (TV).
    • National Broadcasting Company (NBC) (1997) (USA) (TV) (broadcast premiere).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2011) (Spain) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2013) (Spain) (Blu-ray) (DVD).
    • Prem’er Video Fil’m (Russia) (VHS).
    • Sony Pictures España (2019) (Spain) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (4K Ultra HD).
    • TV 2 Zebra (2009) (Norway) (TV).
    • Tiglon Video (2004) (Turkey) (DVD).
    • Universal Home Video (2004) (Brazil) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Finland (2004) (Finland) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Finland (2013) (Finland) (Blu-ray).
    • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE) (2012) (USA) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (Universal’s 100th Anniversary).
    • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE) (2013) (USA) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (20th Anniversary Edition).
    • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (UPHE) (2018) (USA) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (4K Ultra HD) (25th Anniversary Edition).
    • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (2013) (Canada) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (20th Anniversary Edition).
    • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (2018) (Canada) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (4K Ultra HD) (25th Anniversary Edition).
    • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (2004) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (2013) (Germany) (Blu-ray).
    • Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (2019) (Germany) (all media) (Ultra HD Blu-ray).
    • Universal Pictures Home Video (2004) (Australia) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Home Video (2008) (Australia) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Home Video (2009) (Australia) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Spain (1999) (Spain) (VHS).
    • Universal Pictures Spain (2004) (Spain) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Video (2004) (Denmark) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Video (1999) (Netherlands) (VHS).
    • Universal Pictures Video (2004) (Netherlands) (DVD) (two-disc limited edition).
    • Universal Pictures Video (2004) (Netherlands) (DVD) (two-disc special edition).
    • Universal Pictures Video (2007) (Netherlands) (DVD) (two-disc special edition) (Universal Ultimate Selection).
    • Universal Pictures Video (2012) (Netherlands) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures Video (2004) (Norway) (DVD) (Special edition).
    • Universal Pictures Video (2013) (Norway) (Blu-ray).
    • Universal Pictures (1999) (UK) (VHS).
    • Universal Pictures (2004) (UK) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures (2005) (UK) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures (2013) (UK) (Blu-ray).
    • Universal Pictures (2013) (UK) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (20th Anniversary Edition).
    • Universal Pictures (2004) (Italy) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures (2006) (Italy) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures (2009) (Italy) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures (1999) (Netherlands) (VHS).
    • Universal Pictures (2004) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures (2004) (Netherlands) (DVD) (two-disc limited edition).
    • Universal Pictures (2004) (Netherlands) (DVD) (two-disc special edition).
    • Universal Pictures (2007) (Netherlands) (DVD) (two-disc special edition) (Universal Ultimate Selection).
    • Universal Pictures (2012) (Netherlands) (DVD).
    • Universal Pictures (2013) (Germany) (Blu-ray).
    • Universal Pictures (2019) (Germany) (all media) (Ultra HD Blu-ray).
    • Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Nordic (2013) (Norway) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (20th Anniversary Edition).
    • Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Nordic (2019) (Norway) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (4K Ultra HD).
    • Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Nordic (2013) (Sweden) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (20th Anniversary Edition).
    • Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Nordic (2019) (Sweden) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (4K Ultra HD).
    • Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2013) (Australia) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (20th Anniversary Edition).
    • Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2014) (Australia) (Blu-ray) (DVD).
    • Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2019) (Australia) (Blu-ray) (DVD) (4K Ultra HD).
    • Universal Studios Home Entertainment (2007) (Canada) (DVD).
    • Universal Studios Home Video (2001) (Canada) (VHS).
    • Universal Studios Home Video (2005) (Canada) (DVD).
    • Universal Studios Home Video (1997) (USA) (VHS).
    • Universal Studios Home Video (2000) (USA) (VHS).
    • Universal Studios Home Video (2003) (USA) (DVD).
    • Universal Studios Home Video (2004) (USA) (DVD).
    • Waylen Group (2013) (Taiwan) (video).
    • Yleisradio (YLE) (1997) (Finland) (TV).
  • Release Date: 30 November 1993 (Washington, D.C.; Premiere).
  • Running Time: 195 minutes.
  • Rating: 15.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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