Schindler's List: Steven Spielberg's definitive coronation

Schindler’s List: Steven Spielberg’s definitive coronation

France 5 is broadcasting a great classic this evening.

Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist, perfectly understood, in 1939, that the occupation of Poland could provide him with real opportunities to enrich himself. He therefore took charge of a kitchenware factory, became a supplier to the German army and indeed prospered. While he assiduously frequented the Nazis of Krakow, whose camaraderie was essential to his business, he hired, on the advice of his accountant, Itzhak Stern, Jewish workers. Little by little, through contact with everyone, he becomes aware of the barbarity of the regime he serves and the terrible threat that weighs on its workers. The carefree collaborator will suddenly fall into resistance…

Creator of some of the most magical and iconic imaginary worlds in the history of cinema, Steven Spielberg is a storyteller of History with a capital H, who does not hesitate to tackle some of the darkest events in the history of humanity.

The most memorable example of all is undoubtedly Schindler’s Lista chilling and poignant evocation of the life of Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of almost 1,100 Jews by allowing them to escape from the Plaszow concentration camp.

On this highly sensitive subject, adapted from a novel by Thomas Keneally published in 1982 itself repeating the secrets of Poldek Pfefferberg, saved by Schindler during the war, Spielberg weaves a portrait of both humanity resisting barbarism and of the latter’s unleashing in all its atrocity, all this without obscuring the dark side of the character of Schindler, honored with the title of Righteous Among the Nations in 1967.

In development for almost ten years at Universal, the film was at the time proposed by Spielberg to Roman Polanskywho refused because he found the film too close to his personal story (his mother died during deportation to Auschwitz). Billy Wilderpart of whose family had also disappeared during the Holocaust, was once considered a potential director, while Martin Scorseseattached to the project at the end of the 1980s, handed overbelieving that only a Jewish filmmaker could tell this story.

Spielberg reveals who really should have directed Schindler’s List

After refusing to direct the film for a while, not feeling capable of doing so, Spielberg finally decided to bring the story of Oskar Schindler to the screen at the beginning of the 1990s with the rise of Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi movements. around the world. Sid Sheinberg accepted on the sole condition that Spielberg produce before another project in preparation, a certain Jurassic Park.

From Scorsese’s stint as director of the project remained the screenwriter Steven Zaillianwith whom Spielberg worked on the script for Schindler’s List, going from 115 to nearly 200 pages, reworking the film to amplify its emotional impact. Coveted by some big Hollywood stars of the time like Warren Beatty, Kevin Costner Or Mel Gibsonthe role of Oskar Schindler was ultimately given to the relatively unknown Liam Neesonwho until now had mainly played supporting roles (Excalibur, Mission…) or been the star of low-budget films (Darkman). For the role of Nazi torturer Amon Göth, Ralph Fiennes gained more than ten kilos in order to obtain an appearance almost photographically identical to that of the real Göth.

Filming began in March 1993 with a large cast (there are more than 120 speaking roles in the film), surrounded by several thousand extras. Among them, most of the SS soldiers were played by German actors descendants of former Nazis, who found in the film a way to atone for their heavy family history. If the filming, mainly located around Krakow in Poland, took place on or near the real historical sites, the Plaszow camp had to be recreated in a studio because the real camp was now surrounded by modern buildings visible from the screen, making filming on location impossible.

The result is a punchy film, with chilling realism inspired by Holocaust of Claude Lanzmannnotably for the use of timeless black and white, even if Spielberg allows himself some highly symbolic colorized shots, the most famous being that of the young girl in the red coat, played by the young Oliwia Dąbrowska, then aged three years old, and who wrote his memoirs of the shooting in 2002.

When it was released in theaters, Schindler’s List receives a triumphant critical reception, even if the sensitivity of the subject has led to certain critical controversies, the most famous publicized remaining that launched by Claude Lanzmann himself, accusing Spielberg of having trivialized the history of the Jews during the Holocaust. The film will prove to be a huge public success, attracting 2.7 million spectators in France and collecting more than 320 million revenues worldwide.

In 1993, Steven Spielberg recounted in Première the parallel creation of Jurassic Park and Schindler’s List

The film will also become the big winner of the awards season, notably repairing a more than damaging oversight in the charts. Nominated thirteen times for the BAFTAs, he leaves with seven awards. Nominated six times for the Golden Globes, he was crowned three times. But the consecration will come above all during the Oscars where the film, nominated ten times, emerges as the big winner of the ceremony with seven statuettes: best photo for Janusz Kaminskibest editing, best artistic direction, best music for John Williamsbest adapted screenplay for Zaillian, best film and best director.

As surprising as it may seem, Schindler’s List was in fact the first Oscar for best director won by Steven Spielbergunsuccessfully appointed four times previously for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, AND the Extra-Terrestrial And The color purple. A deserved and rather late coronation for the man who remains one of the most adored and influential filmmakers of recent decades…

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