This year, 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the movie Schindler’s List, probably the best Holocaust movie Hollywood has ever made. And as the world knows, multi-awarded director Steven Spielberg directed this film, which won seven out of twelve Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film also won several other awards from BAFTA and Golden Globes.
Released in December 1993, Schindler’s List is based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Australian novelist Thomas Keneally, and featured the true story of German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who saved 1,200 Polish Jews refugees during World War II. This 3 hours-15 minute black and white movie stars Liam Neeson as Schindler and Ben Kingsley as Itzhak Stern, Schindler’s accountant, and Ralph Fiennes as SS officer Amon Goth.
In April 2018, Schindler’s List had its 25th anniversary screening via Tribeca Film Festival in New York. There, Spielberg and the main cast were able to watch it again for the first time, 25 years after its release. And for our part, below is the list of 25 interesting facts about Schindler’s List you probably don’t know yet.
#1 An Oskar Schindler biopic was planned in 1963
Sometime in 1962, a Holocaust survivor named Poldek Pfefferberg, also known as Leopold Page got Hollywood producer Martin Gosch and MGM interested in making a bio film of Oskar Schindler. In the early 1970s, writer Howard Koch wrote a screenplay for MGM for the said film. However, the plan for the movie did not materialize.
#2 The idea for Schindler’s Ark book began in a leather goods shop
In October 1980, Keneally stopped at leather goods shop in Beverly Hills to buy a briefcase. Incidentally, the shop was owned by Pfefferberg. When the latter learned that Keneally was a writer, he told him about Schindler and showed him documents and testimonies of other Holocaust survivors. He then became a consultant for the film.
#3 Steven Spielberg had an idea of Schindler’s List back in 1983
Steven Spielberg met with Pfefferberg sometime in 1983. That time, Spielberg told him that he will do the movie after 10 years. Pfefferberg claimed he visited the director’s office every week to convince him to do the film. Spielberg finally agreed in 1992, and mentioned his name and thanked him when he received his Best Director award.
#4 Steven Spielberg initially refused to direct the movie
Spielberg did not want to do the movie at first, and even offered it to Polish director Roman Polanski, but the latter refused. He then tried to pass the project to Sydney Pollack and Martin Scorsese, who was supposed to direct the movie in 1988. According to him that time, he think that he was not yet matured enough to direct a film about Holocaust.
#5 Why Schindler’s List was filmed in black and white
Schindler’s List was filmed mostly in black and white mainly because Spielberg wanted to create an extra layer of horrific realism and to highlight the impact of the film’s violence. It was a suggestion to him by cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, who eventually won the Academy’s Best Cinematography award for the film.
#6 Steven Spielberg preferred an unknown actor to play Oskar Schindler
Actors Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson had expressed interest to play the role of Oskar Schindler. And although Liam Neeson is now famous for his Taken movie series and similar action films, he was still an unknown actor when Steven Spielberg chose him. According to him, he does not want an actor’s star quality overpower the character.
#7 Robin Williams was instrumental for Spielberg while doing the film
During the movie’s 25th anniversary screening, Spielberg admitted that the late comedian was keep his spirits up despite the sad theme of the movie. “Robin knew what I was going through, and once a week, he called and do 15 minutes of stand-up on the phone. He never said bye. He hung up on the loudest laugh you gave him,” he said.
#8 Steven Spielberg did not receive a single penny from the movie
Considering that Schindler’s List made a whopping $321.2 million in the box office Spielberg would have received a lot of money from directing it. However, he decided not to receive his salary, and cited it as blood money. Instead, he gave it to Shoah Foundation, an organization he founded to remember the Holocaust survivors.
#9 Schindler’s List was almost not shown in the Philippines
When the movie was to be shown in the Philippines, Henrietta Mendez, then-chairperson of the Movie and Television Regulatory and Classification Board (MTRCB) ordered to cut the nude scenes. However, Spielberg threaten to withdraw the movie. But thanks to then-President Fidel V. Ramos, who intervened and the uncut version was eventually shown.
#10 No one thought Schindler’s List would be a huge box-office hit
Yes, no one including Universal Pictures that bought the rights to the novel to make it to be movie thought it would do big in the box-office that time. Now wonder, it only had a budget of $22 million. As a measure, Universal tasked Spielberg to direct another movie first, which was released on the same year. The movie was Jurassic Park, which was released in June 1993.
#11 Why candle prayer was shown at the opening scene
The opening scene of Schindler’s List featured a colored part where lighted candles were shown. According to Steven Spielberg, this is show the Jewish practice of Shabbat (or Sabbath), which represents their relationship with God. In short, he wants the audience to release that the movie is a story of Jewish people, and not of Nazi Germany.
#12 What the girl in red symbolizes
The little girl wearing a red coat in Schindler’s List is one of only four color images in the movie. Schindler saw her walking through the violence during the evacuation of the Jews as if she can’t see it. According to Spielberg, the scene was intended to symbolize how the US government ignored the Holocaust and did nothing to stop it.
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