“Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don’t,” a famous quote all too ignored during the battle of fascism, racism and crime against humanity of World War Two, spoken by Oskar Schindler. Nominated for 12 Academy Awards and based on the 1982 book Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, the story of Oskar Schindler, a Nazi Sudeten-German war cheap labor profiter then saviour, is spoken loud with a detached delirium. The name of the film, Shindler’s List is based on the thousand Jews Schindler saved from the horror of the holocaust by employing them in a factory. The 1993 American movie set in World War II, is a heart-wrecking true story retelling the reality of powerlessness under the Nazi government and the silver lining of Schindler’s heroism.
The racism shackled on the Jewish society in WW2 caused by Hitler’s rise to power and perpetuated by the SS army is showcased in both an outer lense and a interweaven perspective. The movie zooms into specific people, but also does not fail to graphically demonstrate the mass murder. Amon Goeth, in the movie- as in reality- was the commandant of the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp in German-occupied Poland and he easily demonstrates his actions to be self-viewed as humane. He does not process the suffering he cultivates, killing over 10,000 people, he does not view the Jewish people as human, with no sign of remorse he oppresses; the society is desensitized and almost blind. When Amon Goeth asks about whether or not Schindler’s shirt is silk, he simply replies, “Of course! I’d say I’d get you one but the man who made it’s probably dead.” For a moment Goeth does not quite know how to react but he is quick to resume his power, threatening a woman in the film with rape than taking a step back and telling her, “No, I don’t think so. You Jewish bitch, you nearly talked me into it, didn’t you?” Scenes like this are as powerful as they are disturbing, it is one element seeing the vastness of all of the people dying and being assaulted in large numbers, it is another to see the personal stories, the delicateness of a human voice and then the assault of that person’s life on a screen.
The taking, the torture and puppetry of human life from a supremacist is alive in our own society today. Humans are susceptible to mob-mentality, brainwash, inclusiveness- the young, the naive or the ones that know nothing beyond- anyone can sucked into this. The portrayal of Jewish people in the eyes of the Nazi occupying Krakow is one of the hardest moments of the film. People feld out of their homes, business, and killed on the street or placed into labour camps or ghettos until put into the concentration camps- it’s all horrific. The way Nazis, children and other German people living in the time are detached from the Jews, as if the torture they are performing is clinical rather than emotional, matter-of fact rather than inhumane is so far from righteousness it could be classified as robotic racism. The effects of severe institutionalized racism brainwashes the children, debatably one of the most prominent scenes in this black and white film is the scene of March 20, 1941— when all Jews were forced enter the ghetto. A little Polish girl, conditioned by propaganda, the policy and her parents shouts on the street “Goodbye, Jews,” parading sinisterly. It will echo the viewer and offer hope for a shred of revolution, anything at all.
The method of change comes from the spin in Oskar’s mind- it’s quite pivotal how Schindler starts off the movie taking photos with dancers, and entrancing the other Nazis, his mind locked on the concept of profiting and optimizing the war. Schindler works with his Jewish accountant, Itzhak Stern, to employ Jews for dirt cheap, then dubbed them essential so he won’t lose money on them being sent away. He remains oblivious to what his factory is doing for the lives of Jewish people, until a girl comes in and speaks about how she wants her family to be “employed” and why they deserve to be rescued. After this conversation he yells at Stern- “Not the business of saving people!” but the most powerful shift occurs here. Something clicked with this man, in a way that that manifests itself in a brilliant way, a way that is a miracle. Without a blink he gives Stern his gold watch, and tells him quietly to tell the girl and her family to come into the factory, with this he declares his commencement of saving the Jews. There continues to be a shift as he states,“Stern, if this factory ever produces a shell that can actually be fired, I’ll be very unhappy.” Schindler, a man who wore a proud Nazi party pin, began to step off of his shield. But how effective this is- is only a bitter paradox. The coldest truth happens at the culmination of the war, though he has saved thousands of lives he does not feel like he did justice against the war’s toll on the jewish population. Schindler receives a ring from the factory workers with a quote , “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.” Schindler begins to sob “This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this. I could have gotten one more person… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!” A bitter paradox because this was not miracle enough, as miraculous as it was one human cannot go against a nation’s entirety of intention and persecution.
“This is your opportunity. Or, you could leave, and return to your families as men instead of murderers,” Oskar Schindler stated. A pair of eyes and a human heart is all it takes to have this three hour long epic under the direction of Steven Spielring, for one to become captivated in the sheer disbelief of human cruelty, racism and the effects of fascism. A necessary classic, this bleeding reality of the movie harvest a kind of surreality because this re-telling of the world’s greatest horror is a shock of humanity’s capabilities, leaving the viewer with a drop of hope and a pool of sorrow.