Schindler's List or The Pianist

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  • OnTheAisle
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    #1201825596

    I recently screened both Oscar winning films Schindler’s List and The Pianist. So many films have addressed the Holocaust, but I contend that these two are the most successful in educating the viewer and conveying the devastating feelings of the genocide which occurred.

    Interestingly, Schindler’s List director Steven Spielberg first thought he was not a mature enough filmmaker to address the serious topic. He owned the rights to the project and initially sought The Pianist director Roman Polanski to direct.

    Both men won Best Director for their respective films. Spielberg felt the topic was deeply personal to his faith and refused a salary. He had all profits from his participation fund the Shoah project to document the stories of Holocaust survivors. Polanski lost his mother to the Holocaust and survived by hiding in the barn of Polish farmer. His tragedy informed his commitment to the film.

    Schindler’s List tells the true story of businessman Oskar Schindler who uses free labor from Polish Jews in his factory. He later develops a conscience and saves the lives of hundreds of these men and women who escape death.

    The Pianist tells the true story of a Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman who survived the Holocaust in hiding in Warsaw with the help of some brave Resistance fighters.

    Each film is powerful and represents the finest work of the director’s oeuvre. Both present horror as commonplace. In Schindler’s List, Amon Goeth uses Jews for target practice. Spielberg forces us to see the violence as haunting and powerful. The obvious madness of the Nazi represents the evil which permeates this period.

    In The Pianist, Polanski presents horror as evidenced in the common man. In one particularly compelling and noteworthy scene, Szpilman must escape from a flat where he has been hiding. As he leaves, he is confronted by a middle aged woman in a bathrobe and headwrap. The woman feels her suspicions are confirmed and begins to shout that the fleeing man is a Jew. The ongoing random interactions permit Polanski to show us that everyone appears life threatening and only a few are kind.

    Each film ends in a sequence of great beauty that honors the past and gives hope for the future.

    When recommending a film on the Holocaust, which masterpiece do you choose?

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    Andrew Carden
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    #1201825604

    Schindler’s List, though I admittedly find both a little overrated. Fiennes and the cinematography are quite incredible, though.

    The Pawnbroker is, in my humble opinion, the all-time greatest Holocaust film.

    OSCAR FLASHBACK: Best Original Song (1952) – The Snubbin’ of Singin’ in the Rain

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    OnTheAisle
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    #1201825658

    The Pawnbroker is, in my humble opinion, the all-time greatest Holocaust film.

    There is little debate that Rod Steiger’s intense performance in The Pawnbroker deserved an Oscar, particularly over the rather silly work of Lee Marvin in the western comedy Cat Ballou.

    I don’t agree that it is the greatest film addressing the Holocaust. The device of using flashbacks to explain behavior and the manipulative, sentimental ending detract from the stunning performance. Like a predominant number of films directed by Sidney Lumet, everything is ratcheted up to a fervor that ultimately works against the story.

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    CanadianFan
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    #1201825673

    Both are incredibly haunting works, but I think ‘Schindler’s List’ is more emotionally overwhelming because of its frank style and matter-of-fact portrayal. ‘The Pianist’ is a work of art, but it’s that artifice, and those little directorial flourishes that distance me from it ever so slightly.

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    GusCruz
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    #1201825709

    I find both films overrated, however, The Pianist is slightly better, more dignified. The acting in Schindler’s List is more solid overall.

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    ETPhoneHome
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    #1201825721

    I find both are interesting and well-executed, but The Pianist was more compelling and emotionally resonant to me. I found Schindler’s List a bit flat though I appreciated the achievement, and Fiennes’ performance in particular. There are many great films about the Holocaust, my personal pick for ‘best’ would probably be Night and Fog. These are definitely in the top class among the narrative ones though.

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    Denis
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    #1201825819

    I find it disturbing that people in general do not praise Liam Neeson’s performance enough, very subtle performance that should have won, I cannot believe that Brody has an oscar and he has none. Overall, I believe Schindler’s list is miles better, but still The Pianist is also an excellent movie.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by  Denis.
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    GusCruz
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    #1201825836

    I find it disturbing that people in general do not praise Liam Neeson’s performance enough, very subtle performance that should have won, I cannot believe that Brody has an oscar and he has none. Overall, I believe Schindler’s list is miles better, but still The Pianist is also an excellent movie.

    I suspect we’re less than a year away from that changing…

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    Andrew Carden
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    #1201825898

    I like Neeson in Schindler’s List but I’ve always thought he was the clear weak link of that sensational 1993 Best Actor line-up and should’ve been replaced with either Jeff Bridges in Fearless or Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire.

    OSCAR FLASHBACK: Best Original Song (1953) – Jerry Lewis Ruins Everything

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    CanadianFan
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    #1201826061

    The final scene with Neeson is one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever seen in a movie.

    To say he should be replaced by Williams in ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ — well, I vehemently disagree.

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    babypook
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    #1201833159

    I’ll admit that I am not the biggest fan of either of these films, although this does not mean that they are not both masterfully crafted and acted.

    If I HAD to watch either again (and again and again as I have…lol) I’d choose Schindler’s, for the performances. Everyone is stellar, and especially for me, Ralph Fiennes…the first time I remember seeing him, and so memorable, I’ll never forget it.

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