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Published January 28, 2011 in Movies by Zach Varnell
A German business exploiting forced Jewish labor ends up saving hundreds of Jews from extermination. Based on a true story. [Dir: Steven Spielberg/ Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes/ 195 min/ Drama/ Democide]
As much a history of the Holocaust as a story about Oskar Schindler, this film traces Schindler’s involvement with Jewish prisoners from the beginning of the Jewish roundup to the end of World War II. At first, Schindler was just an indifferent German entrepreneur making money at the expense of captured Jews. But as is portrayed in the film, his experience gradually transformed him. Partly it was his exposure to actual Jews who worked for him that humanized them in his eyes and made their plight tangible, and partly it was full realization of the horror and sadism to which they were being subjected that sensitized him to what was happening. At the same time, Schindler was, like most entrepreneurs, motivated by a desire to effect positive change. The positive change he ultimately brought about was to spare hundreds from the Holocaust. This is a good example of one person making a difference in the face of authoritarianism rule and probably one of the few even marginally happy stories to come out of the Nazi period. Of course, libertarians rarely speak of the Holocaust without mentioning the importance of private gun ownership. The “right to keep and bear arms” was included in the U.S. Constitution as a preventative to just such kind of atrocity. Schindler too understood the importance of guns and tried to buy guns on the black market so his Jews could, in the worst case, protect themselves. But you don’t see anything about that here. Hollywood doesn’t like private gun ownership. In artistic terms, this is a well-assembled film with a moving John Williams musical score and inspired acting. But what really drives it is the story and the fact that it happened. When I saw it in the theater, after it ended the theater audience remained seated in silence until the credits had passed, out of respect; that’s the only time I’ve ever seen that happen. This film won seven Academy Awards.
This article was reprinted from Jon Osborne's Miss Liberty's Guide to Film and Video: Movies for the Libertarian Millenium, available in the Advocates Liberty Store.