Schindler’s List


 A DVD rental place took over the barber shop a few blocks from where I live. One day, I decided to pop in to have a look. It has a limited selection of films. Schindler’s List caught my eye as I thought it may be something worth showing to the students.

“Are you a teacher?” asked the guy behind the counter as he registered me as a member. “Er, yes.” Wah lau, is he a part-time fortune teller or what? “Ah, no wonder I find you familiar.” It turned out that this guy is a nursing student in my school and he had seen me around campus. I had never thought him before though. “Cher, I give you discount.” he smiled.

A good movie, and a nice gesture. A great way to start my weekend.  

Now, you must be in a very comfortable position before you start watching Schindler’s List. You see, it spans over 3 hours, some parts are slow, wobbly (hand-held war scenes) and it’s in black-and-white. Straining for the eye.

It’s one of those films you heard so much about you know you’d better watch it so you don’t appear stupid when people start making references to it. And yes, it is indeed a very special movie, perhaps one of its kind.

The beauty of its appeal lies in the fact that many of us would be able to identify with Oskar Schindler. He seemed very much like anyone of us. He is motivated by money and he has many flaws. His weakeness for alcohol, cigarettes, women, food, entertainment, makes him just like one of those men in the street.

But when we realised that such an ordinary person like him had accomplished an extraordinary feat of saving 1,100 Jewish lives, we sit up and listen. Schindler was not a saint. He was a normal person like us. Just a little bit more talented. But not too much.

He was a great communicator who placed a lot of emphasis on developing relationships. It was his glib tongue which built connections with the Nazis, hence allowing him to first get his enamelware factory and then his Jewish workers up and running. Schindler knew the power of guan xi even before the Chinese did.

Schindler was also a fantastic teacher. He taught the brutal Amon Goeth about the true meaning of power. Goeth had developed a sick appetite for shooting Jewish prisoners for fun. Over drinks, Schindler said “Power is when we have every justification to kill, but we don’t. An Emperor pardons a man who stole something. He lets him live, though he thought he was going to die. That is real power.”

We don’t really know why Schindler, who never aspired to be a saviour, did so much to protect the Jews under his care. He sold all his assets and spent all his money on bribes to get all of them transported from Germany to his hometown in the Czech Republic.

He was guilty for not being able to save more Jews, but he had not realised that because of what he did, generations were able to carry on. His circle of influence never did end. It created ripples which effects could still be felt by Jews today. Some of them would have never been born hadn’t there be Schindler.

Sometimes when I get disillusioned, I too feel as if I had not managed to reach out to more kids. I simply do not have the energy to look after every single one of them. Or they have erected such high walls to keep me out. Sometimes I feel guilty for not trying hard enough. I get worn out and paralysed by guilt.

But I suppose I would never be able to help them all, and even if I could just make a difference to one person’s life, that would be more than enough.

It doesn’t take a saint to make a difference or a nobleman to do the right thing. I hope I will always remember this and continue to keep my chin up.

p.s: look out for the little girl wearing the red dress. she is about the only person who appeared in colour in the film. her little red coat gets lost in a chaotic mess of Jews and it is later when you see the same red coat being thrown like a ragdoll into the fire do you realise the effects of the atrocities.

Disclaimer: Not for the faint-hearted. There are no leaking brains, blood is black. But you find yourself thinking about it for days.

Explore posts in the same categories: Movie

One Comment on “Schindler’s List”

  1. shirleen Says:

    i have schindler’s list in my SLDP cupboard…. i could have rented it to you…for free. teehee

    yup..u’re right. We’re not made to save fact we can’t. But its like, 1 insignificant person can make an impact on another, and that person makes an impact on someone else..and it’s like a pay-it-forward effect…. and u’d never know how making a difference to 1 person can make a difference to the world. ta da!

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