Schindler’s List (1993)

Film and Plot Synopsis

Adapted from Thomas Keneally’s novel, Steven Spielberg’s masterful film tells the incredible true story of Oskar Schindler. Initially a member of the Nazi party, the Catholic Schindler risks his career and life, and ultimately goes bankrupt, to employ 1,100 Jews in his crockery factory during the Holocaust. Schindler’s Jewish accountant serves as his conscience, as Schindler conducts business with an obstinate and cruel Nazi commander, who viciously kills Jewish prisoners from the balcony of his villa overlooking a prison camp.

‘Schindler’s List’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Schindler's List (1993)It’s World War II, and the Germans move local Polish Jews into an overcrowded ghetto in Kraków. Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson) is an ethnic German (and member of the Nazi Party) from Czechoslovakia with hopes of profiting off the conflict. Schindler bribes German armed forces and SS officials in Kraków to acquire a factory so he can produce enamelware.

Schindler hires Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), a local Jewish official, because he has contacts with both people running the black market and people in the Jewish business community. He helps Schindler finance the factory. Schindler keeps things friendly with the Nazis, while Stern manages the factory. He hires cheap Jewish workers which keeps them from being sent to concentration camps or killed outright.

Second Lieutenant, Amon Göth (Ralph Fiennes), is in Kraków too, and he oversees construction of the Płaszów concentration camp. Once completed, he orders his men to empty the ghetto there. The soldiers shoot and kill many Jews in the process. This massacre changes Schindler. He spots a young girl with a red coat trying to hide from the Nazis. Later he sees her dead body on a wagon with the other recently killed.

While Schindler neither likes or trusts Göth, he continually bribes and schmoozes him to stay on the SS’s good side, but it’s not easy. Göth brutalizes everyone including his own Jewish maid Helen Hirsch. The prisoners live in constant fear of him as he shoots at them from his villa’s balcony.

The mistreatment of the Jews eventually shifts Schindler’s goal from profiteering from the war to saving as many lives as he can. To start, Schindler bribes Göth into letting him to build a smaller camp for his employees.

Soon though, the Germans begin losing the war, and the Nazi’s order Göth to move the Jews at his camp to the one at Auschwitz. So, Schindler asks Göth to let him to move his workers to a new factory near his home town of Zwittau…for a huge bribe of course.

Göth takes the bribe, and Schindler and Stern create a list of 850 people to be transferred to the new factory. However, when the train with the women and children is mistakenly redirected to Auschwitz, Schindler must bribe Rudolf Höss too who is its commandant.

Once at the new factory, Schindler bans SS guards from entering the factory floor; allowing the Jews there to observe their Sabbath. From here on, until the German’s surrender, Schindler spends his fortune on bribes to Nazi officials. The factory does not produce any usable armaments, so Schindler buys them from other factories nearby. Schindler runs out of money as the war comes to a close in Europe.

Schindler prepares to flee the incoming Red Army to avoid capture. While the Nazis have ordered the remaining SS guards to kill Schindler’s Jewish workforce, Schindler convinces them to instead return home as men; not as murderers.

He says goodbye to the workers, and heads west in hopes of finding Americans to surrender to. The workers give Schindler a signed statement attesting to his role in saving Jewish lives, and present him with an engraved ring: “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”

While he’s touched, he’s also ashamed as he feels he could have done more. Schindler and his family quickly leave, and the Red Army enters the town the next morning to liberate the Jews.

The film ends with an epilogue. After the war, Schindler’s marriage failed as did any attempts at starting his business back up. Göth was arrested, tried, and executed for his crimes against humanity.

The last scene from the film is in the present day. Many of the surviving workers (and the actors portraying them) visit Schindler’s grave. They place stones around his marker which is the traditional Jewish sign of respect. Liam Neeson who portrayed Schindler is the final visitor. He lays two roses on the marker to close out the film.

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