It is a riveting film. So much so that at the end of the movie, no one spoke or got up to leave for at least five minutes after the film had ended. It is the only film I have ever seen that had that effect upon an entire audience.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, here is a synopsis of the story and the film:
In 1939, the Germans move Polish Jews to the Kraków Ghetto as World War II begins. Oskar Schindler, an ethnic German businessman from Moravia, arrives in the city hoping to make a fortune as a war profiteer. Schindler, a member of the Nazi Party, lavishes bribes upon Wehrmacht and SS officials. Sponsored by the military, Schindler acquires a factory for the production of army mess kits.
Not knowing much about how to run such an enterprise, he gains a collaborator, Itzhak Stern, an official of Krakow's Judenrat (Jewish Council) who has contacts with the Jewish business community and the black marketers inside the ghetto.
The Jewish businessmen lend Schindler money in return for a share of products produced. Opening the factory, Schindler pleases the Nazis and enjoys newfound wealth and status as "Herr Direktor", while Stern handles administration. Schindler hires Jewish Poles instead of Catholic Poles because they cost less.
Workers in Schindler's factory are allowed outside the ghetto, and Stern ensures that as many people as possible are deemed "essential" to the German war effort, saving them from being transported to concentration camps or killed.
SS-Lieutenant (Untersturmführer) Amon Goeth arrives in Kraków to oversee construction of the Płaszów concentration camp. Once the camp is completed, he orders the liquidation of the ghetto and Operation Reinhard in Kraków begins, with hundreds of troops emptying the cramped rooms and arbitrarily murdering anyone who is uncooperative, elderly or infirm. Schindler watches the massacre and is profoundly affected.
He nevertheless is careful to befriend Goeth and, through Stern's attention to bribery, Schindler continues enjoying SS support. Schindler bribes Goeth into allowing him to build a sub-camp for his workers, so that he can keep his factory running smoothly and protect them. As time passes, Schindler tries to save as many lives as he can. As the war shifts, Goeth is ordered to ship the remaining Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Schindler prepares to leave Kraków with his fortune. He finds himself unable to do so, however, and prevails upon Goeth to allow him to keep his workers so he can move them to a factory in his old home of Zwittau-Brinnlitz, away from the Final Solution. Goeth charges a massive bribe for each worker. Schindler and Stern assemble a list of workers to be kept off the trains to Auschwitz.
"Schindler's List" comprises these "skilled" inmates, and for many of those in Płaszów, being included means the difference between life and death. Almost all of the people on Schindler's list arrive safely at the new site.
The train carrying the women is accidentally redirected to Auschwitz. Schindler bribes the camp commander, Rudolf Höß, with a cache of diamonds in exchange for releasing the women to Brinnlitz. Once the women arrive, Schindler institutes firm controls on the SS guards assigned to the factory, forbidding them to enter the production areas. He encourages the Jews to observe the Sabbath.
To keep his workers alive, he spends much of his fortune bribing Nazi officials and buying shells from other companies; he never produces working shells during the seven months his factory operates. He runs out of money just as the Wehrmacht surrenders, ending the war in Europe. (Wikipedia... Schindler's List...)Even today it is very hard for me to watch the ending scene of this movie. Yet, hard as it is to read about or recall watching this film, I cannot but compare the struggle exemplified in that story of saving lives, with the efforts of those in the Pro-Life movement that give all they have, and who struggle with every effort that they can, to try to save one more Life, one more Soul.
In story after story, battle after battle, the demonstrators in the streets, the sidewalks, in front of abortion clinics; those battling it out on the steps of state capitals across the country... how can you not but feel, that if one expends one more ounce of energy, makes one more thrust of effort: might that result in saving one more Life, one more Soul?
Here is that last scene from Schindler's List. In it Schindler wonders, as his grief consumes him, how many more lives would he have saved, if only ...