Schindler's List

Top 5: Scenes from Schindler’s List

Schindler's List

Every month or so, we continue down the of the Top 250 films on IMDB, and examine the top 5 scenes within one of the greatest films of all-time.  To review, so far we’ve looked at:

1. Shawshank Redemption
2. The Godfather
3. The Godfather Part 2
4. The Dark Knight
5. Pulp Fiction

Liam Neeson, Schindler's List, Oskar Schindler
Which brings us to #6: Schindler’s List.  In 1993, Steven Spielberg had one of the greatest years of any director in the history of film.  That summer he released one of the greatest summer blockbusters ever in Jurassic Park and that winter he swept the Oscars and turned in probably his best film with the Holocaust drama Schindler’s List.

Some movies get labeled as “Important” without deserving it, but if any film must be seen simply because it IS important, it’s Schindler’s List.  To some degree, you have to do Spielberg a disservice and put aside the quality of the film itself, which is impeccable.  The subject matter, the Holocaust, is a horror which no imagination can ever equal.  That Spielberg manages to capture a fraction of the reality behind it, justifies the film’s place in history.  No one is ever in the mood to watch Schindler’s List; you don’t pop it in at the end of a long day.  Most people, will only see the film once, and it is a defining enough experience that once is all people need to remember.

Ralph Fiennes, Schindler's List
Humanity has an almost uncanny ability to forget.  Movies exist fundamentally as escapism; as a tool to forget.  TS Eliot said that humankind can only bear so much reality, and that’s true.  Most of us spend our days in a calculated effort to forget the most important things in our personal and collective history.  It is that built-in lethargy that we have to fight,  because events like The Holocaust can and will happen again if we allow ourselves to forget what we’re capable of doing to each other.  Schindler’s List is probably the greatest tool we have to ensure the transference of cultural memory of The Holocaust from the generations touched by World War II to the present and future.  It is heartbreaking, brutal and beautiful.  These are the five scenes that have stayed with me.

1. The Girl in the Red Coat

Simply the most effective use of color in any film ever made, and in a film of heartbreaking moments; the one that’s seared into my mind forever.

2. I Could Have Done More

When I make fun of Liam Neeson or rag on him for his career post-Taken, I’m comparing what he IS doing to what he CAN do, which perhaps best captured here.

3. The List is an Absolute Good

Ben Kingsley makes any film in which he partakes better.  He has an Oscar for being a leading man, but to me he is the one of the five best supporting actors in the history of cinema.

4. The Balcony Shootings

Ralph Fiennes is as revolting a presence as Schindler is ultimately a redeeming one.  The casual evil is the most vile.

5. The End

Spielberg has a problem ending films these days, but he didn’t always.  It’s hard to imagine any other ending for this film of black and white fiction than to transfer to full-color reality; the surviving (as of 1993) Schindler Jews.

12 thoughts on “Top 5: Scenes from Schindler’s List”

  1. We need to remember the Holocaust. Desperately. Always. It’s terrifying when you consider that it didn’t happen that long ago, that a vagrant psychopath managed to mobilize an entire country under his message of evil and hate, and came very, very close to taking over the world.

    Schindler’s List is so good that if I were a filmmaker, even a very talented one, I would be dissuaded from tackling the subject. I have never heard anyone criticize any part of this movie. I have watched as extremely squeamish family members and freinds watched every single moment of the film, staring at even the most upsetting parts because they understood it was important to not look away. What Speilberg does with this movie is show us the depths to which the human race can sink, the total bottom, the absolute nadir. Yet through the figure of Schindler, a seemingly amoral war profiteer who by all rights never should have done anything noble ever, Speilberg shows us the heights to which even the worst of us can aspire. I’m glad I know about the miraculous thing Oskar Schindler did for all those people. God bless you, Steven Speilberg.


  2. Great list, important scenes all of them. Somehow, perhaps linked to your number 4, I always recall that scene where, if I remember correct, a young boy did not mange to clean Goeth (Fiennes)’s bath? and after he has “forgiven” him, he shoots him from his balcony.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. Man one the most evil characters of all-time and like all the films on the IMDB top 250 (this was #5, I think, and now I’m working on #14 Inception) are agony to pick just five scenes from. They’re the best of the best.

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      1. I guess after this evil personality, Fiennes’ Voldemort was like a walk in the park. Inception must be tough to compile, I particularly like the sequence of Ariadne’s first introduction to dream construction.

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      2. We think alike, my friend. “Creating the Dream” is definitely going to be one of the five. These tend to take longer to write, so probably the weekend look for it. Plus I just slogged through a big feature yesterday so my brain needs to vent lol.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Your number four is the film, as far as I’m concerned. In a period of about thirty seconds, Feinnes climbs out of bed nude after having had sex, makes some mundane comments, noisily urninates off screen in the bathroom attached to the bedroom, causally walks to the balcony and shoots in the head a randomly selected victim sending everyone else in the camp yard scurrying. The scene presents violence, in this case the ultimate violence, as a casual activity on par with sex, urination and small talk. It goes a long way to explaining how Germans could kill 6 or 7 million people in an organized, business-like system. I take a pee – I shoot someone in the head. In some circumstances, some people don’t see a difference.

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