Part of a group of young Hollywood directors who emerged from film schools in the 1970s - George Lucas ("Star Wars") and Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather"). All phenomenonally successfull at the box office. SP has shown skill at movie making in almost all the main genres of film (SF, fantasy, action/adventure, horror, as well as serious drama). Likes to base films on novels. Recurrent theme is innocence of childhood, child's perspective of adult word.
Based upon Australian novelist Thomas Keneally's 1982 Booker Prize winning novel Schindler's Ark (Sevenoaks: Hodder and Stoughton, 1983). Note his American Civil War novel The Confederates (1979) (Glasgow: Fontana, 1981). In the "Author's Note" Keneally recalls how he came to hear about the survival of the Schindler Jews: his meeting with Leopold Pfefferberg in his shop in Beverly Hills in 1980, interviews with 50 survivors from 7 countries, a vist to Poland with Pfefferberg, documents from the memorial Yad Vashem in Israel. He concludes that:
To use the texture and devices of a novel to tell a true story is a course which has frequently been followed in modern writing. It is the one I have chosen to follow here; both because the crarft of the novelist is the only craft to which I can lay claim, and because the novel's techniques seem best suited for a character of such ambiguity and magnitude as Oskar. I have attemtpted to avoid all fiction, though, since fiction would debase the record, and to distinguish between reality and the myths which are likely to attach themselves to a man of Oskar's stature. Sometimes it has been necessary to attempt to reconstruct conversations of which Oskars and others have left only the briefest record. But most exchanges and conversations, and all events, are based on the detailed recollections of the Schindlerjuden (Schindler Jews), of Schinidler himself, and of other eyewitnesses to Oskar's acts of outrageous rescue.
The original novel's title was Schindler's Ark - a reference perhaps to Noah's Ark in which were rescued a pair of all the animals threatened by the Flood. The film's title Schindler's List refers to the list of names drawn up of those who would work for Schindler and thus escape death in the camps.
SP's "message film" the profits of which are to go into a foundation to promote the popular understanding of the Holocaust. Copies of the video are to be made available to American schools. SS is funding oral history project to record memories of Schindler Jews (and others) who survived the camps. Based on life of Catholic Czech-born German businessman Oscar Schindler who used Jews in his factories making eating utensils for the German army. Schindler went broke paying bribes to protect the over 1,000 Jews who worked for him, thbus saving their lives from almost certain death in the camps. Caused a storm of controversy when it appeared over its claim to be historically accurate. According to a documentary made by Jon Blair for Thames Television in 1983 OS had worked for German military intelligence before the war (which may explain why his operation was left alone for so long). This is not discussed by S. Won seven Oscars including Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction, Cinematography, Editing, and Original Score (John Williams).
Spielberg's Holocaust: Critical Perspectives on Schindler's List, ed. Yosefa Loshitzky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997).
Frank Manchel, "A Reel Witness: Steven Spielberg's Representation of the Holocaust in Schindler's List," Journal of Modern History, 1995, vol. 67, no. 1, pp. 83-100.
Victoria Carchidi, "Schindler's List: At Home with the Holocaust or, Hollywood Atrocities," Australasian Journal of American Studies, July 1996, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 65-76.
Annette Insdorf, Indelible Shadows: Film and the Holocaust (2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 1989).
Lawrence Langer, "The Americanization of the Holocaust on Stage and Screen", in Lawrence L. Langer, Admitting the Holocaust. Collected Essays, (New York: OUP 1995), pp. 157-178.
Evan Williams, "Hell in black and white," The Weekend Australian, February 12-13, 1994.
It seemed to me then that those events (the Holocaust) wereso terrible in their scale and intensity, so sacredly embedded in our global memories of guilt and suffering, so unapproachable in their power to dismay and disturb any rational faith in human values, that they should be apprehended only through literature or through documentaries of the most measured and scrupulous kind. ... (such as Shoah or Peter Cohen's Architecture of Doom)
Thanks to Spielberg I know now that my earlier view was mistaken. It is true that Schindler's List is a work of entertainment but it is also a great and responsible work of documentary history - or at least a documentary in style and purpose. That some of its events have been dramatised, perhpas distorted, even invented, is the way of all works of entertainment based essentially on truth; and to ask of everything in this film, "Did this actually happen?" is, I think, not only trivial but probably meaningless.