Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley
Plot: In German-occupied Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazi Germans.
Universal agreed to let Spielberg direct the film, provided he shoot "Jurassic Park" first. Spielberg agreed, knowing he wouldn't feel like making a dinosaur movie after finishing "Schindler's List."
A number of high-profile leading men were up for the role of Schindler, from Kevin Costner to Mel Gibson to Warren Beatty, but Spielberg didn't want to cast anyone with movie-star baggage, about whom the audience would bring preconceived notions. He settled on Liam Neeson after seeing him on Broadway in a revival of "Anna Christie."
Fiennes gained 28 pounds to play Goeth. His performance was so dead-on that Pfefferberg's wife, Mila, went into a trembling fit when she met Fiennes in character.
Spielberg refused a salary on the project, considering any fee he might receive to be "blood money."
The director decided to shoot in black and white for several reasons. It reminded him of documentary footage of the Holocaust. It had a timeless quality to it. And he felt that the film should be drained of color to reflect the draining of life during the Holocaust.
At Auschwitz, Spielberg shot outside the gates but not inside, out of respect for the dead.
For Spielberg, the hardest moment was the sequence when the Polish extras, playing concentration camp prisoners, were stripped and humiliated. He said he couldn't actually watch that part of the shoot. Frequently during the filming, he would break down in tears.
To cheer himself up, Spielberg had Robin Williams phone him.
In real life, there actually was a little girl in Krakow known for her red coat, Roma Ligocka. She survived the Holocaust, and she published a memoir in 2002, "The Girl in the Red Coat."
Steven Spielberg offered the job of director to Roman Polanski. Polanski turned it down because the subject was too personal. He had lived in the Krakow ghetto until the age of 8, when he escaped on the day of the liquidation. His mother later died at the Auschwitz concentration camp. After learning this, Spielberg immediately and repeatedly apologized for bringing up such a traumatic memory. Polanski would later direct his own film about the Holocaust, The Pianist (2002).
Steven Spielberg’s resolve to make the film became complete when studio executives asked him why he didn’t simply make a donation of some sort rather than wasting everyone’s time and money on a depressing film.
As Schindler is given a tour of the camp, he passes a boy in prisoner’s clothing with his hands raised over his head and a sign hanging over him. It reads “jestem zlodziejem ziemniaków”, “I am a potato thief.”
In real life, Oskar Schindler was not arrested for kissing the Jewish girl at his birthday party. He was arrested three times for dealings in the black market.
Branko Lustig became the producer of “Schindler’s List” after showing Spielberg his tattooed serial number from Auschwitz on his arm.