Few films in recent decades have been as universally praised, and even loved, As Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. Critics and the public generally hailed it as a modern masterpiece, and one supporting the most fundamental ethics of real morality. To achieve this, Spielberg presents the story of one heroic man in World War II, I Nazi-occupied Poland, who spends enormous bribes to keep his Jewish workers alive and safe from the death camps. The movie is certainly powerful, a dark yet hopeful reality enhanced by the black and white film.
All this aside, however, I am personally unhappy with the movie. In a sense, the director’s skill is too much; as in his other films, Spielberg seem intent on manipulating audience emotions and I always perceive this. It is especially true in this film. Scene after scene is plainly designed to emphasize good against evil, as at the end, when Schindler experiences pain at the thought of the other Jews he might have saved. The same is true of the girl in the red coat, eventually shit by the Nazis and seen by Schindler on a wagon of bodies. All of it is expertly done but I dislike being so guided or expected to respond in a certain way.
The musical score also only adds to the emotional manipulation. For example, in the scene with the girl in the red coat, the background music is children singing a folk song or lullaby. This has the effect of contrast; again, innocence facing brutality, and is seems overdone.
The same excess is in the “Bach or Mozart?” scene. The pianist plays Bach as the Nazis riddle the entire house with machine gun fire. While it is true that this music exists as part of the story, the effect is still, in my view, too much. The music so emphasizes the obvious reality of horror attacking decency, it helps to overstate the point and it gives me a sense of being all the more directed in how I should react.