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post #1 of 13 Old 03-05-13, 04:36 AM Thread Starter
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Schindler's List - Blu-ray Review


Title: Schindler's List

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HTS Overall Score:94




Summary
Most movies are meant to be watched, enjoyed, hated and watched at a moment’s notice. Others are more time consuming and take preparation, a much more involved watching so to speak; and then there is that once in a decade film that is meant to be EXPERIENCED. “Schindler’s List” falls into that last category, a film that is literally the blood, sweat and tears of producer Steven Spielberg. It is a film that has stood head and shoulders over every other holocaust story told to date, impressing upon us the sheer horror, sadness and pain that an entire people had pressed down upon them. Awe inspiring and a testament to a people who survived one of the worst genocidal attempts in history as well as one man who chose, no matter how late in life, to stand in the gap, “Schindler’s List” well deserves it’s critical acclaim and well deserves it’s place in cinematic history’s hall of fame.

It’s the start of the German invasion of Poland and Jews everywhere are being rounded up left and right. First it’s simply being registered and forced to wear the Star of David symbol on their arm to differentiate themselves from the other citizens. Soon it turned into outright rounding them up and shuffling them off into concentration camps. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), is Czech businessman who has moved to Poland in order to make a name for himself. A war profiteer he hires Jewish workers who are desperate to stay out of the work camps and pays them in product that they can sell on the black market, basically profiting on the hard times of the Jews. Employing the skills of a Jewish accountant named Itzhak Stern (Sir Ben Kingsley) to help him run the business, Schindler soon makes a name for himself selling pots and pans to the German army. Schindler’s only goal here is money, he’s a sleazy womanizer, with no morals other than to make as much money as he possibly can and leave when he’s rich. He doesn’t care about the Nazi ideals, or the plight of the Jewish people for that matter. His only concern is himself and his status.

While Schindler is busy making himself wealthy, a German officer named Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) comes in and sets up the Plaszow concentration camp sequestering all of the workers that Schindler has been employing. Realizing that there is very little he can do on his own he teams up with Herr Goeth to split a percentage of the profits if Goeth allows him to keep a certain amount of the Jews in the camp for his metal working business. From here Goeth and Schindler make money hand over foot, Schindler content to run his business and Goeth, a monster by all rights, terrorizes the prisoners at his pleasure.

Schindler soon becomes a name synonymous with “haven” amongst the terrified Jews, it appears that Itzhak Stein has been shuffling in those Jews who have very little chance at being kept alive due to poor skills that make them useless to the Germans. Schindler himself seems to not care, but slowly you see the effects of living in such close proximity to these people are having on him. One girl in particular is the straw that breaks the camel’s back for him. Seeing this child’s body dragged across the ground and burned in a huge burial pyre sets off a chain of events that no one around him saw coming. Soon realizing that he must do SOMETHING, Oskar begins to buy up every Jew that he possibly can, leaving Plaszow and setting up a metalworking business in his home town in Czechoslovakia. Literally draining himself dry, he spends the rest of the war spending every penny of his own profits keeping the 1100 Jews that he was able to acquire safe from harm and the fear of being gassed at Auschwitz.

“Schindler’s List” is a truly gut wrenching film that lays every nerve raw and pulsing for all to see. Running a fine line between graphic and tasteful, Spielberg has crafted a film that is truly amazing. While some may think of the movie as a fantastic Holocaust film, I rather believe that this is a film about one man. Schindler himself. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” There have always been evil people in the world and there always will be, that much is certain just looking at the world today. The true tragedy is when people do nothing to stop said evil. The majority of the German people were not evil people, instead they watched evil take power, and when it showed its true nature, did nothing to stop it. Oskar Schindler was a man who saw evil taking root, and did nothing. When they came for the Jews, he did nothing, when they sent them away into concentration camps, he did nothing. When men and women were dying in the streets just because they wore a star on their arms, he buried his head into his work and went about his profit since it didn’t affect him. The film shows a remarkable change in a man who seemed to show no feelings of caring for others. He went from a man totally centered on his own wellbeing to being someone who gave up everything he had to help save as many Jews as his wallet could afford. The only real tragedy here was that it was almost too little, too late. He had spent a majority of the war standing by, letting innocents die in the streets, when he had the means and the strength to make a difference. The very last scenes of the movie Schindler himself realizes the folly of his self-centeredness. Sobbing into the arms of his friend Itzhak Stein laments the fact that he kept his expensive car, which could have saved 10 more lives, a gold pendant that could have saved another too. Breaking down, he realizes that as much as he did, there was so much more that he could have done if he wasn’t’ so blinded by greed and apathy. On the flip side, it’s never too late to do the right thing. There are now 1100 Jews alive today that would have never seen this century if it had not been for the efforts of one man.

After viewing “Schindler’s List” and reading the many articles that Steven Spielberg has been a part of, it’s blatantly obvious that this was not just a movie for him. It was a piece of himself, a baring of his soul, a story that he wanted the world to see and never come back the same from again. The actors chosen were impeccable in their acting and their casting. Liam Neeson, a former boxer turned actor and almost an unknown, was cast as our story’s main protagonist, playing the single minded Schindler to a T. Able to project a face of pure, coldness throughout the movie and slowly, ever so slowly melting away to the person who ached for these people in such a subtle way that you almost have to rewind the movie in order to make sure you’re watching the same person. Ben Kingsley is flawless as he always is, playing the Jewish accountant who puts every fiber of his being into making sure that he can save as many of his people as he can. As much as you hate him to your very core, Ralph Fiennes almost stole the show. Merciless, heartless and a caricature of pure evil, his rants and outbursts are eery and chilling that you can’t tear your eyes away from him. Whether he’s coldly shooting passerbies in the street as sport or beating a maid senseless in a fit of rage you can’t help but wonder what makes a man act the way he does.

Rating:

Rated R for language, some sexuality and actuality violence



Video

I was a bit worried going into the movie. Universal Studios has not always had the best track record when putting out catalog titles onto the Blu-ray format. Usually having such annoying problems as DNR to smooth over the grain and using old outdated masters I wondered if we were going to have such a fantastic movie treated as “just another film”. Thankfully Universal and Steven Spielberg has pulled out all the stops for this groundbreaking titles. Lovingly restored from the 35mm elements “Schindler’s List” has been given new life once more. Grain is magically intact and provides a very authentic cinematic experience. No cases of DNR or other compression and digital artifacts to be seen. Being a black and white film, black levels are incredibly important, and luckily for us, the blacks are rich and inky, creating levels of shadows and light greys that enhance every bit of detail for us. Facial detail is absolutely incredible. You can see every flaw and every pore on Ralph Fienne’s rugged face and every curve and sheen of individual pieces of caviar on a dinner plate. Long shots are every bit as magnificent, crystal clear and imbuing the audience with a sense of realism that is hard to replicate on film. I have to give props to Universal for releasing such a fine and well-crafted piece of cinema with the most care possible.







Audio

Audio wise, the film is absolutely flawless. Dialogue is crisp and clear, locked in the center channel as per specs. The only problem with the dialogue happens to be source related and that is the heavy German accents which sometimes makes understanding the dialogue a bit difficult. The soundstage is used with panache and aplomb. The surrounds are alive with all sorts of activity, from the crunching of a footstep to the chugging of a train from the background. While some soundtracks strive to be aggressive and in your face, this one strives to be absolutely perfectly balanced. Sometimes it’s the sounds that DON’T jump out at you that are the most impressive, the creaking of door followed by the whisper quiet rustles of cloth as someone walks through is impeccable and crystal clear. LFE is deep and powerful, used to accentuate the fantastic score by John Williams, and to add a low end to the scenes that need it. Rifle shots are deep and powerful and the rumbling of the trains made the hairs of my arms stand on end.





Extras:
• Voices From the List
• USC Shoah Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg
• About IWitness









Overall:

As I said earlier, “Schindler’s List” is an experience vs. just a film. Truly epic and poignant no matter who you are it is one of the films that I wholeheartedly recommend that everyone watch at least once in their life. Some films are not meant for some people, and some people are not for some films, but there comes a film every once in a while that just begs to be seen by everyone in their life and I believe that this is one of those films. Universal studios pulled out all the stops on this release, with fantastic video and audio and a truly mesmerizing plot, I can’t recommend this one enough.

Additional Information:

Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Steven Zaillian
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish, French DTS 5.1
Studio: Universal Studios
Rated: R
Runtime: 196 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 5th, 2013


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Recommendation: Own It


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post #2 of 13 Old 03-05-13, 05:38 AM
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Re: Schindler's List - Blu-ray Review

Excellent Review! I agree this movie is a movie every person should see. A great movie to showcase that one person can make a difference.
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post #3 of 13 Old 03-05-13, 09:03 AM
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Re: Schindler's List - Blu-ray Review

Great Review, Mike! Oddly enough, my whole family "experienced" this film together when it first came out. I thought it was an odd choice for a family outing, but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding/appreciated outings we had together as a family.

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post #4 of 13 Old 03-05-13, 10:01 AM
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Re: Schindler's List - Blu-ray Review

Thanks for another great review Mike!

I am ashamed to admit that I have never seen this - a fact that shall be remedied shortly. Cheers!
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post #5 of 13 Old 03-05-13, 10:36 AM
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Re: Schindler's List - Blu-ray Review

I must say... I have never seen it either. Of course I have never seen the Princess Bride either.

For whatever silly reasons, when Mike mentioned this review to me, my mind was thinking of The Shawshank Redemption the entire time, which I have indeed seen. Then when I clicked on this review, it hit me... duh!

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post #6 of 13 Old 03-05-13, 10:37 AM
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Re: Schindler's List - Blu-ray Review

Thanks for the great review. My wife and I watched the BD this past weekend and couldn't agree more, it is an experience and not just a film.
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post #7 of 13 Old 03-05-13, 12:01 PM
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Re: Schindler's List - Blu-ray Review

Quote:
Sonnie wrote: View Post
I must say... I have never seen it either. Of course I have never seen the Princess Bride either.

For whatever silly reasons, when Mike mentioned this review to me, my mind was thinking of The Shawshank Redemption the entire time, which I have indeed seen. Then when I clicked on this review, it hit me... duh!
Hey now - you were supposed to have watched that! It is no Schindler's List, but still......
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post #8 of 13 Old 03-05-13, 12:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Schindler's List - Blu-ray Review

Quote:
Sonnie wrote: View Post
I must say... I have never seen it either. Of course I have never seen the Princess Bride either.

For whatever silly reasons, when Mike mentioned this review to me, my mind was thinking of The Shawshank Redemption the entire time, which I have indeed seen. Then when I clicked on this review, it hit me... duh!
never seen the princess Bride??? I didn't think people who haven't seen that movie was only a myth?
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post #9 of 13 Old 03-05-13, 10:35 PM
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Re: Schindler's List - Blu-ray Review

Excellent Review Mike as always but this is probably the best so far as you really nailed the essence of the film.

I have seen this movie twice already but, can be a tough movie to watch but an important movie and one of the finest examples of movie making. Definitely in my top 10 movies of all time but probably #1 when it comes to a movie that makes you think, feel and become totally immersed in.

The acting all around is brilliant but I think Ralph Fiennes actually did steal the show. His performance really gave the movie so much more emotion and his character really made you feel strongly towards him. I have a hard time thinking of an actor who portrayed a villain better than him.

You have a great way with words Mike, always enjoy reading your reviews
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post #10 of 13 Old 03-07-13, 09:08 AM
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Re: Schindler's List - Blu-ray Review

Excellent review of a very powerful and moving movie. I agree it is not a movie with high repeat value not because it is bad but because it is so emotionally draining that you can't watch it very often.
My last viewing of Schindlers List was when it came out on DVD and I think enough time has passed that I need to revisit it on bluray.
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