Schindler’s List

schindlerIn the annals of cinema history, few pictures can match the devastating effect Schindler’s List has on the viewer.
Long I’d heard about this movie; online and off, I had encountered many raves and praises, yet nothing could have prepared me for those actual three hours of history that Steven Spielberg managed to capture on celluloid.

Without a doubt his magnum opus, Spielberg must have found production the most emotionally demanding of his film career, as there is no way any sane person can go over such ghastly events on a day to day basis without it affecting its psyche. For the effort alone, the director must be commended. But going through all that and producing what is perhaps the finest and most haunting film about the Holocaust ever made? There are simply no words.

Shot on beautiful black and white photography, Schindler’s List never asks us to cry. It never demands us to come face to face with the worst parts of our humanity. By feeling more like a documentary than a straight narrative, it simply moves from one event to the other, never commenting on what the characters do. It exists, and we are witnesses to what is presented to the camera. I imagine there can be a multitude of reactions a person can have while watching this, but I doubt indifference is one of them. This is a movie in which the only way not to feel a thing would be to turn it off, for the camera has such power it nearly comes alive.

I was reminded of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, and I found the thought curious, so I further prodded my mind.
It is not that both films address the horrors humans are capable of inflicting upon each other, nor that they are handled in the same way, with the camera never intruding in the proceedings, but merely standing by, silently witnessing each atrocity. I think it was because I looked to myself and wondered, “Would you be capable of doing this to a fellow human being?”

The tragedy is that we all can. We are a fallen people, and it is astounding that we have made it this far without tearing each other apart. What’s most astounding is that a Savior would willingly give His life for us. Because we do not deserve it, do we? Yet, by love and love alone, we are freed from shame and sin and death, and are able to look up at the sky and smile. For we are forgiven.

May we strive, every single day of our existence, to live right in this world. To do good. Let the Schindler’s of this life overcome the Goethe’s. May hope defeat bleakness, and light swallow darkness.
It is the only reasonable way to live.



Mississippi Burning

mississippi burning“What’s wrong with people?”, Ward (Willem Dafoe) asks, as he holds a near dead human between his arms.

If only there was an easy answer.

Sometimes I’ll watch an uplifting film, and in my ecstasy, think that us humans are beautiful, our hearts able to grow to infinity for our neighbor.
Others, I’ll end up with movies like Mississippi Burning, and cry because every single of us creatures of sin is doomed.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle, perhaps.
A perpetual clash between love and hate, acceptance and intolerance, forgiveness and resentment.
In this picture, the battle is between 2 FBI officers, Anderson (Gene Hackman) and Ward, and murderous, racist drinking buddies.
From the ominous opening scene (a car speeding down a highway, being tailed by 3 other vehicles), to the haunting final moments, this is an important movie.
While it excels at being a thriller, the moments that engaged me the most could have easily been in a historical drama.
Indeed, the moment when the Ku Klux Klan show up at a church and start beating parishioners, while a young boy falls to his knees in prayer, could have easily been in 12 Years A Slave, or Selma.

Why do I call this movie important?
I think every feature that deals with the dark side of our humanity should be seen by everyone.
How else are we ever to confront ourselves, to examine our thoughts and doings, and strive to become a better version of ourselves?
It’s easy to dismiss the action as the misdeeds of a couple of racists deep in the South, but aren’t we all capable of evil, call it intolerance, bitterness, arrogance?

Look on John 8:7, and ponder.