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Schindler's List
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Schindler's List
Just got Schindler's List, it came out Monday. I am really disgusted how a great movie like this gets such a shitty presentation and package and idiot movies like LOTR get a 5 disk box set. It's a 2 sided disk, the height of cheapness on the part of the studio.

(There is a very sxpensive plexi-glass display box version, but that's bullshit.)

There is no commentary track, which this is one movie that could really deserve one, while inanitites like The Italian Job and Under the Tuscan Sun you listen to some self-important director ramble on about how he got some stupid ass effect. Spielberg could have added some real insight into the making of this very important movie.

The movie itself is great, its widescreen and fairly sharp, but he was gong for a somewhat artistic visual style and its b&w so sharpness and uniformity of color/contrast is hard to gauge. There are some extras, a featurette plus a 77 minute documentary from Holocaust survivors, but why not make a 2 disk set? Every fucked up teen romance comedy gets better treatment than this classic film, with some really valid and worthwhile extras, and its a 2 sided disk.

Really amazing. The packaging is nice, its in a slim box case that resembles a hard-cover book, and there's a tiny pamphlet with some info, plus some text features on the disk about Oskar Schindler and Cast & Crew. I just can't get past the 2 sided disk, which is a big pain in the ass. With multilayer DVD9 this just isn't necessary anymore, or why not add a 2nd disk? It may be that Spielberg wanted to keep costs down so that many people could afford this, but I've bought plenty of sets for under $20, plus there are other things you can do to keep prices down. Reportedly, he took no salary for directing this so I assume he has some control over costs.

I just think its a shoddy way to treat a really important film like this, when I see huge packaging on total crap junkfood movies. Every schoolchild should be required to see this movie. With all the Holocaust denial going on in the world its important for people to know this happened, how it happened, why it happened, and that there were some people who stood up to injustice and tyranny in its most evil form.

I think it has real parallels to the struggle against the Islamo-fascists today and their prosecution of their own citizens, plus the liberation of Iraqis from a brutal fascist regime that was very like Hitler's: genocidal, oppressive, hegemaniacal, hostile to neighboring countries, repressive of minorities, intolerant of religion and civil freedoms. Those comparing Bush to Hitler trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust, and it would do them good to see what the REAL Hitler actually did to make him the most vilified man (except perhaps Stalin) in the 20th century.

For those of you who don't know, its the story of a enterprenarial German industrialist, Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson, who has made a career playing historical heroic figures like Rob Roy, Michael Collins) who starts out just trying to make a buck selling munitions to the German government during WWII, but undergoes a tranformation from a venal, greedy,unscrupulous speculator, and in fact uses some of these qualities to save 1200 Jews by insisting they be employed as essential, irreplacable workers in his factories.

He goes to extreme lengths to do this, obsessively ensuring every single individual in his employ be saved. He also made sure his factory put out defective munitions so they could not help the German war effort. In the process, he lost millions and had to go on the run as a war criminal for employing forced labor. Ben Kingsley is his right-hand and accomplice in this work and Ralph Fiennes plays the Nazi commandant with whom he has to wheel and deal. Fiennes plays it with kind of an evil sexuality and total depravity.

There's a nice duality there too: Fiennes charactor has a Jewish mistress who he loves in spite of himself, but he relaxes each morning by picking off Jewish slave laborers with a sniper rifle. Spielberg directs this in a sharp contrast to his usual on-the-top Hollywood hamminess, with none of the usual cliches or devices he uses on his other crap. Its done with a very realistic and matter-of-fact style, nothing brutal or sentimental is dwelt upon, the events simply play out, and are powerful enough on their own to carry the movie without typical tinsel-town tropes. His best movie, by far. Saving Private Ryan was less than it could have been because he reverted to his formulaic style that rendered what could have been a much greater work a bit like a typical war movie: the stereotypical personalities in the squad for example.

None of this is done in List. Really, besides the 3 principles, the characters are not defined, but presented as real people of whom we just get glimpses. The events are the stars here, not the actors, and a strong supporting cast is not necessary. The unspoken supporting cast is all the victims of the Holocaust.

Small individual brutalities depicted in the film are all the more powerful because they are not dwelt upon, but the aggregate weight of killing after killing, brutality after brutality, especially in the raid of the Krakow ghetto, is profoundly moving. A very effective piece of work, the best use of the art of cinema, to use visual and narrative to evoke an emotion as well as instruct and educate.

This film alone forgives all Spielberg's other atrocities. I personally believe he, with his crony George Lucas, is one of the most destructive forces in Hollywood history in causing the action "blockbuster" glut that crowds out much more deserving movies with shit like Indiana Jones and Star Wars and Jurassic Park.

Anyway, buy this. Its one of those essential movies you must have in your collection.

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