Schindler’s List (1993)

Schindler's ListRating: 10/10

This is truly a great movie. It tells the story of a German businessman named Oskar Schindler, who during World War Two uses Polish Jews to work at his factories to become super wealthy. After a massacre of Jews at the Kraków Ghetto, however, Schindler eventually sees the horror of the Nazi anti-Jew laws and behaviors, and he changes his mission from making money to saving as many Jews as possible. As the Jews are ordered to Auschwitz, Schindler and Jewish associate Itzhak Stern, using on SS officials massive bribes which eventually make Schindler broke, compose a list of Jews who will instead “work” at Schindler’s new factory until the war’s end, thereby saving them; from this list the title borrows its name.

The film is a powerful lesson in cruelty and compassion, characterized respectively by Göth (bloodthirsty SS officer) and Schindler. It is shot mainly in black and white (despite being a 1993 movie), with exceptions at the beginning and end, which give it a documentary feel. Also important is the ghetto massacre, in which the red dress of little girl is shown in color, as it is also the scene in which Schindler has a change of heart to helping the Jews; this red dress can be seen on the movie poster.

The musical score, by John Williams, is remarkable. In fact, one of the reasons I wanted to watch this movie was because I had recently listened to the main theme, which is one of the most sad but gorgeous pieces of music I have ever heard.

Summer Reading List

I’m trying to read some real literature this summer, so here’s what I have tentatively planned.

Books which I have and plan to read:

  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  • The Collected Oscar Wilde by Oscar Wilde The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas*

*Barnes and Nobel sent the wrong book, but with the correct cover. That’s right, the cover and the pages don’t match. I’m perfectly fine with this however, as this is a book which I have also been wanting to read.

Plays which I have and plan to read:

  • Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde
  • A Woman of No Importance by Oscar Wilde
  • An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde
  • Salomé by Oscar Wilde

These four plays are all in a collection titled The Importance of Being Earnest and Four Other Plays. I have already read—and seen in both movie rendition and live performance—The Importance of Being Earnest.

Nonfiction books which I have and plan to read:

  • Screenplay by Syd Field
  • Writing with Style by John R. Trimble
  • Gates by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews

The last title is of course a reference to Bill Gates, not garden gates.

Books which I don’t have but plan to read:

  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick**

**This is Cornell’s summer reading book, which they’re shipping soon.

Books which I don’t have but do want to read:

Catch-22

  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
  • Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo (at friend’s recommendation)

Added from edit:

  • Straight Man by Richard Russo (at friend’s recommendation)
  • The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (at friend’s recommendation)

Well, that’s it for now—there’s a heck of a lot of other books I want to read at some point.

&

Finally, for the sake of completeness, below is a list of books which I have read so far in 2010, in approximate forward chronological order (many of these appear as posts on my blog).

Books which I have read so far in 2010:

  • The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka*** (actually I read this on Dec. 25, 2009, but eh, close enough!)
  • QED by Richard Feynman (and I read this on Dec. 29, 2009, oh well)
  • Perfect Rigor by Masha Gessen
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  • Viva la Repartee by Mardy Grothe
  • Oxymoronica by Mardy Grothe
  • Candide by Voltaire
  • Othello by Shakespeare***
  • The Pirate Hunter by Richard Zacks
  • The Pursuit of WOW! by Tom Peters
  • Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou***
  • I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like by Mardy Grothe
  • Ifferisms by Mardy Grothe
  • Introduction to Graph Theory by Richard J. Trudeau
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser
  • Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
  • The Aims of Education by The University of Chicago
  • The Great Gatsby by F.S. Fitzgerald***
  • Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You by Mardy Grothe
  • Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar by Tom Cathcart and Dan Klein
  • xkcd: volume 0 by Randall Munroe
  • The Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner and Lewis Carroll
  • Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter
  • “The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll

***Assigned readings for school

By the way, the size of this list is rather unusual for me, as I used to not read this much. I went through most years of my life reading maybe five or six books outside of school per year; only this year (and the latter half of 2009) did I really start enjoying literature.

If I had to recommend five books from this list—actually a tough decision—I would choose Viva la Repartee, Candide, Siddhartha, Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass. Yes, Lewis Carroll is just that awesome.