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February 1994


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Mark Bunster <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 7 Feb 1994 15:33:27 EST
text/plain (135 lines)
 Forgive me if in the combination of responses I misplace or misattribute
 >From Criag Shipman--
 >I went to see "List" last night
 >I was dissapointed.
 >(snip)  Any story is centered around characters, without them you
 >have no story.  Every time you stray from them, you are not telling a story.
 If this were true I would never read fiction. What ever happened to notions
 of plot? What character A thinks is interesting, but it's the manifestation
 of his or her thoughts that makes a movie worth watching. I won't deny that
 characterization is crucial--I've lost interest in many fictions wherein I
 have no idea what spurred a particular character's actions, but "List" isn't
 one of them.
 >would have driven home the horror.  Actions do not horrify, characters do.
 ...characters who perform actions. If the commandant just sat around
 thinking, "I oughta kill somebody helpless just for laughs", who would care?
 We're not indicted or praised for thoughts--only the actions that result from
 >It was not horrifying to see people i do not know kill people i do not know
 >in a place that was foreign.
 This has been addressed before, but it's one of the more depressing things
 I've read in a long while. With your attitude, nothing is possible, for only
 injustices perpetrated against YOU are worth your time or empathy. I hope you
 never need the help of someone you don't know.
 >I was confused as to the transformation of Schindler from capitalist to
 >humanist.  Where was the transformation, how did the character change and
 >why?  Some may say that in the face of what was being presented to him he
 >was bound to change and it was obvious.  I will argue that others never
 >changed, so why did he. I wanted the movie to be about someone!  It was
 >about something and, in my opinion, that is not storytelling.
 So what you really didn't like was the insufficient (for you) work on
 Shindler's converted motivation. Your noticing that he changed, though,
 indicates the film WAS about someone AND something--he changed, others
 didn't. Contrary to perhaps general belief, people, even Germans of the
 1940's, were not like-minded automatons.
 I'm not sure who this was...
 >I saw Schindler's List yesterday and I think it not only does not develop
 >characters, it fails in numerous other ways.  It's more like ET goes to the
 >concentration camps.  Spielberg's exploitation of the Holocaust is just
 >that--the atrocities he films were relatively minor compared to their
 >reality.  Watch instead, Lina Wertmuller's Seven Beauties, which I came
 So you're saying you were disappointed that SL wasn't a documentary. I fail
 to see how a specifc account, dramatized, becomes exploitation.
 >Instead of Itzhak Perlman's schmaltzy faux-
 >Jewish nostalgia music, you'll find Wagner's "Flight of the Valkyrie"
 >juxtaposed over images of the camps--highlighting the irony of the
 >"highest" point in German culture meeting its true manifestations in the
 What would Itzhak Perlman know about Jewish music?--you're right. Polish,
 Jewish musicians probably never hear nor play the stuff...
 >Just incidently, despite my not appreciating this bit of fatuous filmmaking
 >, I was upset enough about the trailer which played beforehand to get
 >into it with the theater manager.  "Were you offended by the preview for Naked
 >Gun 33-1/3?  Was it dirty or something?" he asked me.  There oughta be a
 You should probably never watch another film in a movie theater again if you
 waste time hoping never to see an advertisement for a coming film. I myself
 blanche a little bit when serious stories on CNN are interspersed with ads
 for drain cleaner and TV guide, but those are what keeps CNN dispersing the
 information the rest of the hour.
 From: Sandy Dwiggins <[log in to unmask]>
 >Thank you, Craig.  I thought I was alone in my opinion of "List", but I
 >find, encouragingly, that I'm not.  There was no CHANGE in the character of
 >Schindler thoughout the film, as far as I was concerned, he had no emotional
 >characteristics and was driven by greed, sex and pure hedonism.  His change
 >,so called, was melodramatic hogwash...and I had never seen so many well-fed
 >people in a concentration camp.
 Whether Schindler the human changed just as the character did, you contradict
 yourself by saying there was no change, and then that you didn't like what
 change there wasn't. I found his character to be very much in it for the
 money at first, but perhaps you miss the idea that outward signs of sympathy
 amongst his fellow officers would be tantamount to treason. I found his
 actions not subtle enough, thinking to myself, "Surely people would become
 suspicious of his intentions by now." Schindler's position was
 extroaordinarily delicate, I think, in order to maximize what good he did.
 Louis Schwartz sez...
 >overcoming as the generalizable. Furthermore the title at the end that
 >sutures the happy ending into reality by telling us that the Schindler
 >Jews propagated is the most unethical moment of the film. Is one Jew
 >replaceable by another? Was the holocaust only horrible because it
 No, but you must not have any children, or you would understand that to many
 people, continuation of their legacy in their offspring (and their
 offspring's offspring) is more important than their own lives. Why else do
 people go into burning buildings at their own peril, just to save their
 children? Because they realize that, in their children, their spirits go on
 >and the shot of real Jews (as if their existence had to be proved outside
 >the films fiction) serve to reduce Jews to characterless economic units
 >who are important in so far as they have number. The inclusion of shots of
 >the actual survivors of Schindler's factory only serves to spread the
 >conotations of the depiction of Jews in the film's narrative to Jews in
 >the world. The economy whereby one Jew can be replaced by another is a
 >thought form common to both Schindler's List and the Nazis.
 I can't speak for anyone but myself--I didn't say to myself at the end, "Oh,
 it's OK--some of the Jews lived. I guess nothing really bad happened." Where
 you get the idea of replaceability is beyond me--the children of these
 survivors are not replaced, they are REMEMBERED. There is a difference. No
 one suggests that these people replace those who died, only that there is
 some joy in knowing the Nazis ultimately failed in their quest to eradicate
 Jews from the face of the planet, and that the progeny of the Shindler
 survivors will prevent their stories from being forgotten.
 Judge the film on techincal merit if you must, but I think calling the film
 offensive is rather rash. Then again, it seems everyone wants to have it
 THEIR way. I saw the same outraged response to Philadelphia--"the portrayal
 of gays was offensive in what it didn't show." I think the argument against
 Phil. has a little more credence, for what that's worth.
 Sorry to be so prolific in responding, but better one message than 4.
Mark Bunster                      |I'm not an actor, but I play one on TV.
Survey Research Lab--VCU          |
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