[rating=4]Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagall, Embeth Davidtz
Director(s): Steven Spielberg
Writer(s): Screenplay by Steven Zaillian, based upon the novel by Thomas Keneally
Thank God Steven Spielberg finally got hip to the fact that DVD’s were here to stay. Far too many times I had to pull out my laserdisc copy of Schindler’s List and listen to the big disc spin loudly on my outdated laserdisc player. Finally on DVD, Spielberg’s masterpiece has never looked or sounded better. A film that is as historically important as it is beautiful, we can finally throw out our SLP copies on VHS and look forward to years of viewing on DVD.
The story of Chez born Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), a man who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazi wrath is a noble one. Yes, he did exploit cheap Jewish labor during one of the most heinous moments in the last hundred years. However, in the end it was the lives he saved that delivers the film’s moral crescendo.
Watching it again on DVD, I was prompted to pause the film’s opening image. The candle (which represented life) burns brighter than ever, striking an emotional cord I haven’t felt since I last saw the movie on laserdisc. The one thing I thought would have made the film even better was if its dialog was delivered in its native tongue (ala The Passion of the Christ).
Like Orson Welles with Citizen Kane, Spielberg gets the best out of many of the key personnel in the film: Janusz Kaminski (winner of the academy award for cinematography); Raph Fiennes (nominated for supporting actor only to lose to Tommy Lee Jones); Steve Zallian (best screenplay); and Liam Nesson (whose next appearance will be in the new Batman movie) in a captivating performance as Schindler. Nonetheless, with all these great performances and creative minds, it is Spielberg’s vision that made the film a masterpiece.
One thing to point out is that there are two different version of Schindler’s List on DVD available to the consumer. The poor man’s version, which I bought, and the special two disc collector’s edition, complete with two documentaries, original score and a plex-glass case that won’t fit in your DVD tower. So if you purchase this one, just take the plastic off.
As for the transfer, it’s as good, if not better than any wide screen b/w film that has been released on DVD. Someday, I hope Raging Bull — another beautiful, modern classic filmed in black and white — will receive similar treatment.
As for the bad, because of the films 130 minute running time, you’re stuck with having to flip the disc over in order to few the last portion of the film. “Side 2” is also where you can view the “Voices From The Past” documentary.
Run Time: 3 hrs., 15 mins.