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How Reliable is Schindler's List As A Representation of the Holocaust?

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Introduction

How reliable is Schindler's List as a representation of the Holocaust/Final Solution? Schindler's List is a blockbuster movie based on Thomas Keneally's book, 'Schindler's Ark', which is based on 50 eye witness accounts of the Holocaust. The movie is based around the life of Oskar Schindler, a rich German business man (who is by no means a flawless hero) who risks everything in a bid to save as many lives as possible nearing the end of the Holocaust. Steven Spielberg, a well known Hollywood director, made this movie and tried to keep it as close to the book as possible. He liked the idea of this book as Keneally kept it as close to fact as possible so as he wouldn't debase the original event, but it drew people in emotionally because it was told from an eye witness point of view. Spielberg made this movie to inform people about the Holocaust, but also to make money, so he threw in a mix of fact and fiction, which is why we need to explore this further. We can tell from the film what is fact reasonably easily because of our thorough knowledge of the Holocaust already, and also our source pack is useful here. We are shown how the Jews are treated in great detail in this movie, beginning with them being herded into ghettoes to live, and the conditions in the ghettoes are shown to be appalling. ...read more.

Middle

The prisoners did not receive proper nourishment, which is again shown by Turkel, and we know that their 'water was contaminated' (14A, SS officer). The contrast between the conditions for the Nazis and the Jews' living quarters is shown well in the film. We see that Schindler is forever bringing gifts of exotic fruit and cigarettes, luxuries reserved for the rich at that time. There are plenty of parties right next to the camp in Goeth's residence, and Schindler sneaks food to Stein (his Jewish right hand man who has been taken into Goeth's camp) from one of these parties. This underlines the significant difference in the conditions and this is backed up by source 14A. Steven Spielberg's handling of the movie also made it such a good portrayal of the Holocaust. Spielberg claimed that he had 'hungered' to make this movie, but there was a ten year gap between his realization that he wanted to do this and the actual beginning of creating the movie. I believe that this was a good thing, and did indeed help him to make this a better portrayal. The ten year delay meant that he was mature enough to deal with the task and also meant that he knew the characters very well and was able to convey this to the actors involved. ...read more.

Conclusion

responsible movie maker, it was his duty to keep the violence to a minimum, especially at that time, but there are some quite graphic scenes of violence in the film, even if they have been underplayed. In conclusion, I believe that Schindler's List was a reasonably reliable representation of the Holocaust. I believe this because nearly everything that was included in the movie that happened to the Jews can be backed up by our sources and our own knowledge, and the fact that all eye witness accounts included in Keneally's book were consistent. Keneally's critically acclaimed book wanted to stay as close to the facts as possible, as did Spielberg with his film. The fact that Spielberg spent ten years researching the Holocaust and Schindler's Jews means that the movie was going to be very accurate and therefore very reliable. He doesn't portray Schindler as a saint, or show all Jews to be victims, which means that he keeps it very close to the real life situation, as Schindler was a womanizer and had a drinking problem and some Jews actually made money out of the war. Even though he doesn't show what other, non-Jewish people went through, I still believe that the movie was quite reliable, but it is still important to keep reminding ourselves that it isn't a documentary and Steven Spielberg isn't a historian. History Coursework Caoimhe McWilliams Question 3 1 ...read more.

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