When you think of Steven Spielberg you may primarily think of big blockbuster sci-fi or action adventure films. Spielberg has also made some truly meaningful movies that have changed the way people think about film. Schindler’s List is a movie that goes above that level, and is a film that is historically important.
History is told through stories, and movies are the greatest form of storytelling aside from books. Before the printing press, historical events were passed down through spoken word. Film is the modern day equivalent of the spoken work method. Spielberg is gaining a lot of attention right now for his work on Lincoln. Lincoln is an award winning and critically acclaimed film, but it is not Steven Spielberg’s greatest accomplishment. To me his greatest accomplishment is Schindler’s List because it is a constant reminder of how a lone person can make a difference against horrific odds.
Schindler’s List tells the true story of Austrian industrialist Oskar Schindler, who harbored Polish Jews during WWII by using them as workers in his factory. By the end of the war, Schindler had saved 1,100 Jews from certain death. The cast is one of the reasons that this film is so special to me. Each actor does a fantastic job of of portraying real-life people. This is one movie that should be mandatory viewing for all students, not just film students. One of the only ways that we can learn from these horrific crimes against humanity, is to share this film with any many people as possible.
Watching this film it is easy to understand how Schindler’s List won so many awards. When it was initially released in 1993, it was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture for Spielberg. The score is one of the most hauntingly beautiful scores that I have heard, and is conducted by John Williams. Williams also earned an Oscar for his work.
Universal Studios has released the 20th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray DigiPack, and it is simply stunning. What makes this edition stunning is that Spielberg personally supervised the extensive high-definition restoration of the film from the 35mm film original negative to glorious HD. I saw this film in theaters a number of times, but it has never looked so crisp as it does now.
I mentioned earlier how Spielberg was involved in restoring the 35 mm film print, which is impressive. Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography looks fantastic on Blu-ray. The black and white photography has transferred superbly to the 1080p /AVC encoded video. From closeup shots to grand sweeping shots, the film looks better than I recall. Williams’ score and the dialogue sound wonderful thanks to the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. This makes sense, since Spielberg also supervised the restoration of the film’s audio elements. You can tell that no expense was spared by Universal on this release.
- Voices From the List: This 77-minute feature gives us an un-paralleled look into the making of the film. It features interviews with Holocaust survivors, descendants of the 1,100 survivors conducted by Director Steven Spielberg. You may complain that there is not a commentary track for this film, but this is better than any commentary track in my mind. I love how we get to see the film from a larger perspective. These firsthand accounts are not to be missed, but keep your tissues handy.
- USC Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg: In this short feature (only 5 minutes) Spielberg reveals why he was inspired to establish the USC Shoah Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to overcoming prejudice, intolerance, and bigotry, and the suffering they cause, while preserving the oral histories of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust.
- About IWitness: This feature is a four-minute promo for a cool online app called IWitness. The app gives educators and students the ability to watch over 1,000 video testimonies of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses.
Schindler’s List 20th Anniversary Edition is available next week. I highly recommend you check it out.
Here is the Schindler’s List Blu-ray trailer:
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