Evocative and exquisitely crafted, this epic World War II drama follows the brave and noble struggles of Oskar Schindler, a vainglorious and greedy German businessman who becomes unlikely humanitarian amid the barbaric Nazi reign when he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews.
Based on the true story of Oskar Schindler who managed to save about 1100 Jews from being gassed at the Auschwitz concentration camp, this touching and inspiring tale stands testament for the good in all of us.
In 1939, the Germans move Polish Jews into the Kraków Ghetto as World War II begins. Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German, arrives in the city hoping to make his fortune. A member of the Nazi Party, Schindler lavishes bribes on Wehrmacht (German armed forces) and SS officials and acquires a factory to produce enamelware.
To help him run the business, Schindler enlists the aid of Itzhak Stern, a local Jewish official who has contacts with black marketeers and the Jewish business community. Stern helps Schindler arrange loans to finance the factory. Schindler maintains friendly relations with the Nazis and enjoys wealth and status as "Herr Direktor", and Stern handles administration.
Schindler hires Jewish workers because they cost less, while Stern ensures that as many people as possible are deemed essential to the German war effort, which saves them from being transported to concentration camps or killed.
SS-Untersturmführer (second lieutenant) Amon Goeth arrives in Kraków to oversee construction of Płaszów concentration camp. When the camp is completed, he orders the ghetto liquidated. Many people are shot and killed in the process of emptying the ghetto. Schindler witnesses the massacre and is profoundly affected. He particularly notices a tiny girl in a red coat – one of the few splashes of color in the black-and-white film – as she hides from the Nazis.
When he later sees the red coat on a wagon loaded with bodies being taken away to be burned, he knows the girl is dead. Schindler is careful to maintain his friendship with Goeth and, through bribery and lavish gifts, continues to enjoy SS support. Goeth brutally mistreats his maid and randomly shoots people from the balcony of his villa, and the prisoners are in constant daily fear for their lives.
As time passes, Schindler's focus shifts from making money to trying to save as many lives as possible. He bribes Goeth into allowing him to build a sub-camp for his workers so that he can better protect them.
As the Germans begin to lose the war, Goeth is ordered to ship the remaining Jews at Płaszów to Auschwitz concentration camp. Schindler asks Goeth to allow him to move his workers to a new munitions factory he plans to build in his home town of Zwittau-Brinnlitz. Goeth agrees, but charges a huge bribe. Schindler and Stern create "Schindler's List" – a list of people to be transferred to Brinnlitz and thus saved from transport to Auschwitz.
As Schindler's workers begin to arrive at the new site, the train carrying the women is accidentally redirected to Auschwitz. Schindler bribes the commandant of Auschwitz with a bag of diamonds to win their release. At the new factory, Schindler forbids the SS guards to enter the production areas and encourages the Jews to observe Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath).
To keep his workers alive, he spends much of his fortune bribing Nazi officials and buying shell casings from other companies; his factory does not produce any usable armaments during its seven months of operation. Schindler runs out of money just as Germany surrenders, ending the war in Europe.
As a Nazi Party member and war profiteer, Schindler must flee the advancing Red Army to avoid capture. The SS guards have been ordered to kill the Jews, but Schindler persuades them to return to their families as men, not murderers. He bids farewell to his workers and prepares to head west, hoping to surrender to the Americans.
The workers give Schindler a signed statement attesting to his role saving Jewish lives, together with a ring engraved with a Talmudic quotation: "Whoever saves one life saves the world entire." Schindler is touched but is also deeply ashamed, as he feels he should have done even more. As the Schindlerjuden (Schindler Jews) awaken the next morning, a Soviet soldier announces that they have been liberated. The Jews leave the factory and walk to a nearby town.
After some scenes depicting Goeth's execution and a summary of Schindler's later life, the black-and-white frame changes to a color shot of actual Schindlerjuden at Schindler's grave in Jerusalem. Accompanied by the actors who portrayed them, the Schindlerjuden place stones on the grave. In the final scene, Neeson places a pair of roses on the grave.
Continuity In the scene where Schindler goes to kiss the Jewish girl, he puts his hands on her shoulders. In the next shot, he pulls his hands away from her cheeks.
Crew/Equipment Visible In the scene where Oskar Schindler and Itzhak Stern negotiate with the Jewish investors outside the ghetto, Steven Spielberg is reflected on the rear window (his jacket is blowing in the wind).
This was considered as the most expensive black and white film made till date, with a budget of 22 million US dollars.
During the filming, the atmosphere was so grim and depressing that Steven Spielberg asked his friend Robin Williams if he could film some comedy sketches.
After filming this movie, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes to real became very good friends.
Earlier Harrison Ford was offered the title role but declined, saying that some people would not be able to look past him as a star to see the importance of the film.
Steven Spielberg was not paid for this film as he refused to accept a salary, citing that it would be "blood money".
To the fact Ralph Fiennes put on 13kg by drinking Guinness for his role. Steven Spielberg cast him because of his "evil sexuality".
Steven Spielberg actually refuses to autograph any materials related to this film.
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