Thursday, December 30, 2010
Schindler's List : Part II (The Movie)
Well I just reviewed the book, so now let's review the movie. (This is surely a first, as I'd never actually reviewed a book, but Schindler's List (or Schindler's Ark as it was originally known) is so good it deserves a lengthy review).
As per usual, I always find film adaptations somewhat disappointing. Spielberg's Schindler's List isn't any different. It's an astounding film by any standard, but doesn't hold a candle to the book. Sure, you'll say "Yeah, now you try cramping a 398-page long book on the Holocaust and see if you can do any better - or at least half as well."
I'm far from complaining about the film. It's just the way I feel about adapting something to the big screen while trying to be completely loyal to the storyline. You just... can't.
Why am I saying this? Well first, you can't transcend from words into moving images without losing the essence of literature: poetry. If Poldek Pfefferberg had wanted this book to just be another true account of things, he wouldn't have needed Keneally. He could have just gone to another run-of-the-mill writer and gotten it published all the same. Would the story have been told? Yes. Would the message have been delivered? Sure. But would it have had as much impact? Absolutely not.
For example, for people who didn't read the book, would the shower scene in Auschwitz be as moving? I doubt so. For in the book, the prisoners were said to have speculated about gas chambers in Auschwitz and grown fearful of them, although they were all still in Plaszow and such a killing method didn't exist there. So when they were mistakenly brought to Auschwitz instead of Oskar Schindler's factory in Zwittau, and asked to strip down before going into the shower room, the prisoners were having their worst nightmare realized as they were persuaded that, instead of water, the showers would emit deadly Zyklon-B gas and immediately kill them. To their pleasant surprise, water came out (albeit a bit icy). That was why they cried for joy.
And of course, the story of Josef Bau getting married in the concentration camp didn't make it into the movie, which is such a shame because people would have liked to hear love stories during the Holocaust, especially one involving a German guy and a Jewish girl.
Another problem I found in the movie was the casting of Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. They both looked so much alike that if I hadn't read the book, I would have thought that Oskar Schindler was a person suffering from a multiple personality disorder who would save a Jew one day and kill another Jew the next day. They both played their respective characters extremely well though, although I doubt that the real Schindler and Göth were half as good looking. And is it me, or was the book version of Amon Göth a thousand times more sadistic and murderous than the one in the film?
All in all, I still enjoyed the 3-and-a-half hour film thoroughly since it helped put images on the people and the places in the book. I wouldn't have known how enormous the ghetto was, or how the trains looked like if it weren't for the movie.
And the cute little kid in the picture above? It's Olek Rosner, one of the kids who survived the Holocaust by hiding in a pile of human shit. And most importantly, he looks like me when I was 6 years old.
Posted by Kahuna at 11:06 AM